The CDC awarded UAMS with $1.2 million in federal funds over a five-year period to improve the quality of healthcare available for mothers and babies in Arkansas.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The CDC has awarded UAMS with $1.2 million in federal funds over a five-year period to help improve the quality of healthcare available for mothers and babies throughout Arkansas.

The funds will start with $274,931 for the first year. Overall, the CDC granted $8.2 million to 27 Perinatal Quality Collaboratives (PQC), including the one under development in Arkansas, to help improve maternal and infant care.

Arkansas was recently accepted into the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM), a national quality improvement program.

Their goal is to introduce the best practices to help make births safer, improve maternal health outcomes, and save lives.

“As an AIM state, Arkansas will benefit from clinical and data resources, including support for implementing maternal safety bundles and tracking our progress,” said Callaghan-Koru.

The collaborative will undergo perinatal quality improvement work led by the Perinatal Outcomes Workgroup Through Education Research (POWER) team at UAMS, a part of the High-Risk Pregnancy Program in order, to help them transition into a PQC.

“This will only enhance what we have been doing and provide support as we work to move the needle in the right direction when it comes to maternal and neonatal outcomes across our state,” said Dawn Brown, BSN, clinical program director for POWER.

According to Wanda Barfield, M.D., director of the CDC Division of Reproductive Health, the grants more than doubled the amount of CDC funding provided to the network of collaboratives.

“In order to have a successful collaborative, we need to make sure it is sustainable for the unforeseen future,” said Nirvana Manning, M.D., chair and associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “This works intimately with our Vision 2029 goals of decreased maternal and infant mortality for our state.”

Vision 2029 refers to the strategic plan developed by UAMS to make Arkansas the healthiest state in the region through education, clinical care, research, and purposeful leadership.

In 2018, Arkansas had the highest maternal mortality rate in the CDC’s comparison of 26 other states and has been ranked as one of the worst states in America for maternal health. 

Many factors contribute to Arkansas’ poor maternal health outcomes, including relatively high rates of poverty and large rural areas with limited obstetric care.

Additional goals of the collaboratives include:

  • reducing preterm births
  • reducing severe pregnancy complications associated with high blood pressure and hemorrhage
  • reducing racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities
  • reducing cesarean births among low-risk pregnant women
  • improving screening and treatment for mothers with substance abuse disorders and newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome

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