October 7, 2022
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) Maternal and Child Health Program has been awarded one of nine highly competitive $5 million State Maternal Health Innovation grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) blueprint for addressing the national maternal health crisis.
The grant will provide $1 million per year for five years to support the Maine CDC Maternal and Child Health Program in an effort to bring the voices of key stakeholders, including health care providers, community-based organizations, and Maine people together to address risk factors facing birthing people before and during pregnancy and after birth that can cause pregnancy loss and death in pregnant people and infants. It is part of over $10 million in federal funding that has been recently awarded to the state over the next five years to improve the system of care and support for pregnant people, new parents, and infants.
The programs and services that this funding will support are part of Governor Janet Mills’ efforts to ensure that Maine people and families have access to the resources and services they need to be safe, stable, healthy, and happy – including expanding MaineCare health coverage for birthing parents for a full year post birth.
Maine’s Maternal and Child Health Program, in partnership with the Perinatal Quality Collaborative for Maine (PQC4ME), plans to address three areas over the course of the five-year grant:
- Funding to support Maine’s 24 birthing hospitals in implementing the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) Safety Bundles, a maternal quality improvement safety program designed to address high risk issues in pregnant patients and provide a standardized approach for providers to offer integrated patient-centered screenings, education, and monitoring to improve care for pregnant people;
- Resources to enhance the collection, analysis, and review of data related to deaths and serious health issues associated with pregnancy and birth to improve health outcomes for pregnant people and infants across the state; and
- Providing funding to upgrade fetal death records submission, and upgrades to maternal and infant death record collection.
By focusing on implementation of the Safety Bundle program and improving data collection and analysis, Maine CDC aims to both improve direct care provided to pregnant people and gain greater insight into how complex and interrelated factors, including challenges in accessing essential resources such as healthcare, education, employment, and housing, as well as issues of discrimination and structural racism, factor into the health outcomes for pregnant people and infants.
In total, Maine has recently been awarded $10.6 million to support a number of projects related to addressing risk and health issues related to pregnancy and child birth, and to improve the state’s system of care for pregnant people, new parents, and infants. In addition to the $5 million HRSA State Maternal Health Innovation grant, Maine has also received:
- $1.375 million capacity building grant over five years awarded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) to the Maine Medical Association Center for Quality Improvement at the Maine Medical Association (MMA CQI) in partnership with In Her Presence, the Maine Primary Care Association, and Maine CDC Public Health Nursing. The funding will support the PQC4ME as Maine’s center of excellence for perinatal quality improvement initiatives by enhancing its capacity to make measurable improvements in care and health outcomes statewide; expand implementation of the AIM Severe Hypertension in Pregnancy Safety Bundle to all of Maine’s birthing hospitals; and advance health equity in the diagnosis and management of hypertension during pregnancy by engaging those experiencing health inequities in evaluating tools and resources used in patient and family education.
- $300,000 over 2 years from the US CDC ERASE Maternal Mortality (CDC ERASE MM) funding for Maternal Mortality Review Committee Expansion awarded to the MMA CQI to expand Maine’s capacity to review maternal deaths as part of the existing Maternal Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Panel (MFIMR) at the Maine CDC; and
- $4 million from HRSA over the next four years to MaineHealth to improve access to and continuity of care for pregnant people and new parents in rural Maine with a focus on strengthening the state telehealth infrastructure for rural hospitals who need to access high risk obstetrics consultation through the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies Program (RMOMS). MMA CQI is partnering with MaineHealth and the RMOMS Network of rural hospitals to improve care during and after pregnancy in rural areas and planning education and training for the management of chronic conditions in pregnancy such as hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.
DHHS’ other ongoing efforts to improve health and wellbeing for pregnant people, new parents, and infants in Maine include:
- Supporting all birthing hospitals in achieving at least Bronze Level Safe Sleep Certification through the National Cribs for Kids Organization.
- Holding “Strengthening the Perinatal System of Care Working Group” quarterly meetings with public and private partners since January 2020 which included working with all hospitals to review and provide guidance (PDF) on a standard approach to the Perinatal and Neonatal Levels of Care.
- Ensuring our work with birthing hospitals aligns with federal initiatives focused on maternal health including the comprehensive Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Maternity Care Action Plan (PDF).