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Release Date: 09/16/2014

The March of Dimes Rhode Island Chapter has awarded a $1,440 grant to the Department of Family Medicine at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island to support Group Prenatal Care through CenteringPregnancy® as part of a Family Medicine Residency Program. This project is directed at maternal and child health needs in Rhode Island. The group prenatal visits are a part of the family medicine training program at Memorial Hospital.

The project will enhance prenatal care through group prenatal visits that focus on maternal education, behavior change and healthy habits. Studies of this type of care, based on the CenteringPregnancy® model, have shown that women participating in group sessions develop significantly better knowledge of important perinatal health issues than those receiving traditional individual care. Additionally, women participating in group visits feel more prepared for labor and delivery and have higher rates of breastfeeding compared to women attending individual visits. Perhaps what is most striking is that studies of group prenatal visits have consistently shown a reduction in low birth weight and preterm births, even among higher risk groups of women.

In addition to providing financial support for supplies to run the group visits, this grant will also fund a training session for resident physicians to learn and practice the skills needed to facilitate group visits. Through this training, more family physicians will have a better understanding of the key elements in prenatal care as well as a background in providing group care specifically.

"We are very grateful to the March of Dimes for their continued support in allowing us to provide group prenatal care to our pregnant mothers, and to train residents in this model of care. This is an evidence-based, exciting, well-liked program that we are thrilled to offer in our clinic," said Jordan White, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at Memorial Hospital. "The evidence supporting the group prenatal visits is astounding," said Susanna Magee, MD, MPH, Director of Maternal Child Health at Memorial Hospital. "There are improved breast-feeding rates, decreased rates of preterm birth, and improved patient satisfaction for those who participate. All of those outcomes are extremely important to us, and we look to any new model of care that promotes health. We believe this new model to be the wave of the future, and are appreciative for our grant that allows us to continue what we started here in Pawtucket."

This grant is one of many that the March of Dimes awards in pursuit of its mission to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

Drs. Susanna Magee, Jordan White, Rebecca Bak, Nicole Siegert and Alla Goldburt are the family medicine physicians at Memorial Hospital responsible for the administration of this grant and the on-going prenatal group visit program.

About Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island

Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, serves as the major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the chief site for the medical school's primary care academic program. Research focuses on primary care and disease prevention, including osteoarthritis, heart disease, cancer, pulmonary function, maternal and child health and women’s health issues.

Memorial provides health services for the people of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts including oncology, cardiovascular, orthopedics, rehabilitation, pain management, and diagnostics. Memorial offers primary care services in Pawtucket, Central Falls and Plainville, Massachusetts.