(METHUEN, MA) Steward Health Choice, the second largest Medicaid Accountable Care Organization (ACO) in Massachusetts with approximately 140,000 covered lives, has expanded its innovative doula program to members giving birth at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, MA. The program is a component of Steward’s Healthy Beginnings Program, which provides care coordination, free childbirth education classes, and other benefits to pregnant and postpartum members.
Birthing families have been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Pregnant patients need compassionate, culturally appropriate support in the communities where they live. At Steward, doulas are seen as critical members of the patient’s care team who can dramatically improve birth experiences during these difficult times,” says Dr. William Goodman, Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Medical Affairs at Holy Family Hospital. At all Steward hospitals, healthy patients are permitted to have their doula in addition to a support person of their choice during childbirth.
A doula is a trained, non-clinical professional who provides educational, emotional, and physical support to parents and their families throughout pregnancy, birth, and the early postpartum period. “The role of the doula does not replace that of the obstetrician, midwife, or nurse; rather, the doula works collaboratively with the obstetric care team to support the patient and family,” states Dr. Isabel Morais, Chair of Obstetrics & Gynecology, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and Director of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Steward Medical Group.
Research indicates that patients who have a doula are more likely to report a positive birth experience and breastfeed their babies. They are simultaneously less likely to be induced, use an epidural, or deliver by cesarean. Some studies have also demonstrated that doulas decrease the length of labor, the likelihood that a newborn will be admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and the chances that the parent will experience postpartum depression.
Every Steward Health Choice member giving birth at a Steward hospital is eligible to receive free doula care during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Through Steward’s partnership with Accompany Doula Care, a Boston-based multi-lingual, multi-cultural collective of doulas, members receive continuous labor support as well as prenatal and postpartum home visits from a doula who is matched to meet their individual needs. To ensure the safety of both doulas and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, Accompany Doula Care offers telehealth services as well. The doulas work collaboratively within the members’ care team, which includes a maternal newborn care coordinator and in many cases a social worker or care manager to address social determinants of health and behavioral health needs.
“As a doula myself, I am proud of Steward’s commitment to providing racially, culturally, and linguistically-congruent doula care to birthing people, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, families need comprehensive community-based support to have a positive pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience,” said Sarah Hodin Krinsky, National Senior Manager of Maternal Newborn Health Programs, Steward Health Care Network.
About Steward Health Choice – Massachusetts
Steward Health Choice – Massachusetts is a MassHealth ACO plan offered by Steward Health Care Network. Steward Health Choice – MA cares for approximately 140,000 members across the state. We believe in a personal approach to health care right in your community. We built our health care plan around our members. Our goal is to give members quality health care, programs, services and Extra Benefits to support them on their path to wellness. The Steward Health Care system is the largest private, tax-paying physician-led health care network in the United States.
Additional information is available at https://www.stewardhealthchoice.org/massachusetts