At CentraCare, Mothers Are in Good Hands

Birthing Services
“I felt like I was in good hands at St. Cloud Hospital,” said Leah. “I knew I wasn’t the first person to come in with this condition, and I never doubted that they knew exactly what they were doing.”

Just 25 weeks into her pregnancy, Leah Beckman, a first-time mother-to-be from Willmar, was admitted to CentraCare – St. Cloud Hospital with high blood pressure. High blood pressure affects up to 10 percent of expectant mothers and is responsible for 10-15 percent of all maternal deaths in the U.S.

Leah’s pregnancy was further complicated by the fact that ultrasounds revealed a suspected problem with her baby’s umbilical cord that threatened the growth of the fetus.

The challenge for doctors was to keep a close eye on Leah’s condition while strategically determining the appropriate time to deliver her infant via cesarean birth.

“My doctors worked to figure out how I could keep my daughter inside me for as long as possible without endangering my health,” said Leah.

Leah Beckman and familyLeah was monitored closely by the hospital’s OB hospitalist and perinatology teams for nearly two weeks to ensure she didn’t develop preeclampsia, a condition that can damage the kidney and liver. At 27 weeks, Leah delivered her daughter, Raelyn. Leah remained in the hospital for three days, while Raelyn spent 102 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) before going home.

Today, both mother and baby are healthy.

“I felt like I was in good hands at St. Cloud Hospital,” said Leah. “I knew I wasn’t the first person to come in with this condition, and I never doubted that they knew exactly what they were doing.”

Nationally, maternal health has come under considerable scrutiny amid reports that the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births in the U.S. has risen sharply, in comparison to rates that have flattened or dropped in other developed countries. However, at St. Cloud Hospital, a focus on high-risk pregnancies and maternal health has resulted in outcomes across a range of measures that are much better than national results, and among the best in Minnesota.

“We know the reasons that women can die in labor and have been very proactive to be part of the solution,” said Stacia Anderson, MD, medical director of the Birthing Center at St. Cloud Hospital. “We work every day to make sure that we provide the best standard of care available.”

St. Cloud Hospital keeps its finger on the pulse of best practices by actively participating in the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) and reviewing its data along with data from other leading sources around the country. It also has an OB hospitalist, whose sole focus is on quality and continually revising CentraCare’s standards of care. Other team members of the Birthing Center also play a significant role in implementing the most current procedures and policies.

Some of the best practices adopted by St. Cloud Hospital include the creation of “special order sets” that doctors use when patients come in with conditions known to jeopardize the mother’s health, such as high blood pressure and post-partum hemorrhage. The hospital also focuses on reducing surgical site infections from cesarean births through the use of special closing trays and dressings. Some of the same policies and practices at St. Cloud Hospital extend to CentraCare’s regional hospitals, ensuring that all facilities are driven by the same high standard of maternal care.

Maintaining excellence in maternal care requires constant vigilance and flexibility in approach.

“Just because we’re doing things one way today doesn’t mean we won’t do them differently tomorrow,” said Dr. Anderson. “We’re constantly trying to improve the way we do things.”

Leah Beckman, along with many other mothers in Central Minnesota, is no doubt thankful for that dedication to excellence.