Southcoast Health’s Charlton Memorial and St. Luke’s Hospitals recognized by Blue Cross Blue Shield for providing high-quality maternity Care



FALL RIVER and NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – Southcoast Health announced today that both Charlton Memorial and St. Luke’s hospitals were recognized by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts with a Blue Distinction® Centers+ (BDC+) designation for Maternity Care, as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

“We are honored to receive this recognition and proud of the exceptional maternity care we provide our community,” said Kim Pina, MSN, RN, Executive Director of the Family Centered Unit/Level II Nursery at Southcoast Health. “I especially want to thank our outstanding teams at Charlton Memorial and St. Luke’s whose dedication and commitment to a high standard of excellence made this achievement possible.” 

The Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program plays a key role in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s (BCBSA) National Health Equity Strategy aimed at reducing racial health disparities across the care spectrum and improving patient outcomes for all Americans.

To align with this strategy, the Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program enhanced its quality and measurement standards to recognize higher-quality facilities that respond effectively to obstetric emergencies, reduce racial disparities, and improve maternal health outcomes.

“Maternal health equity is a main focus for us as we continue to advance the care and services we provide across the South Coast region,” said Christian Pope, DO, FACOG, Chief of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Southcoast Health. “We have made important progress in this area, by continued active participation with the Perinatal-Neonatal Quality Improvement Network, helping to achieve measureable improvements in perinatal outcomes and striving to eliminate perinatal health inequities among Massachusetts families. We also developed our own Perinatal Health Equity Council last year.”

“Additionally, I am proud to share that the U.S. News and World Report recognized Southcoast Health for Maternity Care as a Maternity Care Access Hospital. These achievements highlight our commitment to ensuring comprehensive maternity care is accessible for all members of our community,” Pope added.  

Based on data from the 2023 designation cycle, facilities designated under the Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program demonstrate higher-quality care compared to non-Blue Distinction Center facilities, with overall average rates of 26 percent lower episiotomies, 60 percent fewer elective deliveries and 17 percent lower cesarean births – all of which point to healthier outcomes for patients. BDC+ designated facilities like Southcoast Health also showed an average savings of 21 percent for maternity care.

The Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program’s selection criteria were devised to close clinical care gaps and reduce inequities that persist throughout the maternal care spectrum. The selection criteria includes components of BCBSA’s Maternal Health Equity Actions, which dismantle the cultural, operational and structural barriers that have created inequities that persist in maternal care.

To be designated under this program, each applicant facility was evaluated on a combination of objective data on patient outcomes as well as the practices implemented to reduce racial disparities and improve maternal health outcomes, such as:

·       Using evidence-based best practices to respond effectively to obstetric emergencies

·       Offering unconscious bias training

·       Participating in the regional Perinatal Quality Collaborative

·       Having doula support available on the maternity care team

·       Collecting race, ethnicity and language data

·       Having a program dedicated to quality improvements in maternal care

·       Running drills and simulations to ensure providers are prepared to deal with a range of obstetric emergencies

·       Demonstrating health outcomes that exceed the selection criteria from our program’s previous evaluation cycle

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality specialty care at lower costs in the areas of bariatric surgery, cancer care, cardiac care, cellular immunotherapy, fertility care, gene therapy, knee and hip replacement, maternity care, spine surgery, substance use treatment and recovery, and transplants, while encouraging health care professionals to improve the care they deliver. 

To learn more about Maternity Services at Southcoast Health, visit

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