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Baystate Franklin has lowest C-section rate in state

Susan Peck (left) meets with patient Loranna Almeida during a prenatal visit at Baystate Medical Practices: Pioneer Women's Health.  (Submitted Photo)

Susan Peck (left) meets with patient Loranna Almeida during a prenatal visit at Baystate Medical Practices: Pioneer Women's Health. (Submitted Photo)

GREENFIELD — Baystate Franklin Medical Center had the lowest rate of Cesarean sections — a surgical procedure where a baby is delivered through an incision in the mother’s abdomen — among Massachusetts hospitals in 2010.

The Greenfield hospital delivered 465 babies that year, with 97 C-sections (a 20.9 percent rate). Hospitals aim to use C-sections sparingly because it’s a major surgery with lots of risks, is costly and requires more recovery time for the mother.

Across the state, just over a third of the 73,275 births that year were C-sections. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s report cautions against using a direct comparison of the percentages without the context of each hospital’s patients and the different risk factors they may have.

A few birthing strategies drive Baystate Franklin’s rate down, said Linda West, nurse manager of “The Birthplace.”

The hospital uses midwives, not obstetrician/gynecologists, as the primary birthing providers, said West — although the latter is always on backup call.

“Midwives tend to ‘wait it out’ and allow the mom’s body to do the work, while also watching the baby closely through fetal monitoring if it is needed,” said West. “When it appears that the baby may be stressed by labor, the midwives are available to support interventions that assist the baby’s recovery.”

West said the hospital also limits its use of labor induction — the use of medications or other methods to stimulate a woman into childbirth. A high use of inductions increases the likelihood of needing a C-section, she said.

Once the mother is in active labor, nurses use their own expertise and experience to make the best decisions and do not solely rely on computer monitors, said West. The hospital avoids using forceps or vacuum assistance in its deliveries, she said.

She said the C-section rate has stayed around 21 to 22 percent the last three years.

“This is an outstanding accomplishment for The Birthplace and for our providers, and is something we should all be proud of,” said hospital president Chuck Gijanto. “We have heard over the years that C-sections have become too common, not to mention very expensive. Kudos to everyone who works so hard to ensure that our moms, their babies and their families, have an amazing experience.”

The Birthplace team includes 40 nurses, seven midwives, three doctors and five support staff.

Other neighboring hospitals were below or near the state average. Cooley Dickinson, in Northampton, had a 29.4 percent rate (254 C-sections out of 863 births). Baystate Medical Center, in Springfield, was at 33.9 percent (1,386 out of 4,090).

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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