Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation Announces $150,000 Grant Expanding Group Prenatal Care Program in New York


Part of $1 Million Grant to March of Dimes® for Local Health Programs in 14 States


November 13, 2011 
Media Contacts: 
Sally Kweskin,
Empire BlueCross BlueShield
(720) 373-4836
November 16, 2011 – New York, NY – Some 30,000 of New York’s babies are born too soon each year. Now, two organizations are working to give more babies a healthy start in life by supporting a group prenatal care program that has successfully reduced c-sections, preterm births and low-birthweight babies. 
Today, Empire BlueCross BlueShield announced a $150,000 grant from its corporate foundation to the March of Dimes to expand the non-profit’s group prenatal care program, CenteringPregnancy®.  
CenteringPregnancy is a model of group prenatal care delivery that has successfully reduced c-sections, preterm births and low-birthweight babies. Instead of individual appointments, women who are at similar points of their pregnancies are brought together in small groups of eight to 12. During the approximately 10 appointments, each woman receives a private, standard health assessment from a medical practitioner. What is unique about the program is that the women also learn health skills, participate in a group discussion, and develop a support network with other group members.  
“By bringing the CenteringPregnancy program to New York we are working to ensure moms-to-be have access to the care they need which in turn leads to better outcomes for mom and baby alike, and lowers overall health care costs for all,” said Mark Wagar, president and CEO, Empire BlueCross BlueShield. “Preterm births are tremendously costly, stressful, and – in many cases – preventable,” 
“We are proud to work with the March of Dimes because their programs have been shown to produce positive, measurable results and because they share our commitment to prenatal care and improving health throughout our community.” 
CenteringPregnancy will be implemented this year at the following locations:  
NuHealth System;
Suffolk County Department of Health; and
Glens Falls Obstetrics and Gynecology Center PC.
“This grant will help more women have healthy pregnancies and full-term babies, and support the March of Dimes quality improvement initiatives to improve the health of babies by preventing preterm births,” said Kerry Terminello, RN, and current Chair of the New York Chapter State Program Services Committee. “By supporting these programs Empire BlueCross BlueShield’s corporate foundation, shows that it recognizes the importance of helping expectant mothers access needed health care services.” 
The grant to the March of Dimes is part of the Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation’s ongoing commitment to addressing health disparities and improving public health in New York. Through its State Health Index – a state-by-state compilation of public health measures – and Healthy Generations program, the Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation works to identify the issues most in need of attention and directs its charitable support and volunteer efforts toward improving health in those areas. Reducing low birth weights and engaging mothers in prenatal care in their first trimester are major focus areas for Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation.  
In the United States, more than half a million babies are born preterm each year. Preterm birth, birth before 37 weeks gestation, is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. It is the leading cause of newborn death. Babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of a lifetime of health challenges, including breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and others. Even infants born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. The last few weeks of pregnancy are critical to a baby because many important organs, including the brain, are not completely developed until then.  
The CenteringPregnancy grant in New York is part of a $1 million grant from Empire BlueCross BlueShield’s parent company’s Foundation to the March of Dimes to improve prenatal care and education and to track the results of those efforts in 14 states: California, Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. 
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