People often ask me why Texas Children’s Hospital expanded into women’s health care. The answer is simple. Texas Children’s takes care of the sickest and most fragile babies from all over the country, so if we wanted to do something to help improve their chances and long-term quality of life, it only made sense that we would start by caring for the health of women before they are ready to start a family.
As many people know, the vision of Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women is to be one of the nation’s premier facilities for women’s, fetal and newborn health. We provide the full spectrum of care from conception to delivery and beyond. But what many people don’t know is that we are also actively involved in grassroots advocacy at state and national levels with the goal of improving health outcomes, quality of care and patient safety for women and newborns across Texas and the nation. We are using the latest evidence-based medicine and guidelines to develop and recommend criteria for care standards. Numerous Texas Children’s physicians, nursing leaders and administrative leaders serve on legislative committees and councils, as well as medical professional society committees, so that we can utilize their expertise to make a positive impact on the health and care of mothers and babies locally, regionally and nationally.
For example, at the state level, Texas Children’s is engaged in improving the health and safety of babies by identifying quality improvement projects to reduce infant mortality through our work with the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies. This new state-sponsored collaborative was formed to advance healthcare quality and patient safety for Texas mothers and babies. We also serve on the Perinatal Advisory Council, created by the 83rd Texas legislature, to ensure the highest quality of care by developing and recommending criteria for designating levels of neonatal and maternal care for hospitals to follow across the state. This council is working to ensure that if a hospital is not fully equipped or properly resourced to care for a mother or baby with a high-risk condition, that patient would be transferred to a certified facility that could do so.
Working to reduce the number of childbirth-related maternal deaths, which are at an all-time high in the U.S right now, is another key issue that we are involved in. No one knows exactly why the rate is on the rise, but by providing maternal fetal medicine physician leadership on the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Task Force, we are helping to review cases and study trends in maternal deaths that have occurred so that we can better understand the problem and make recommendations to help reduce the numbers across Texas.
In addition to our grass roots efforts to create change in our home state and across the nation, Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine are making a difference for women and families in other countries where the most perilous conditions exist. Through our Women’s Global Health Initiative, we are currently providing obstetrical and gynecological care in Malawi. Because of the limited number of health professionals and scarcity of resources available to clinicians in that country, the Malawian Ministry of Health and the public hospital are collaborating with us to train obstetrics and gynecology physicians as well as potentially develop new techniques, such as those related to minimizing blood loss, to target the reduction in the maternal death rate, which is approximately 20 times higher than what we experience here in the US.
Whether it is collaboration here at home or across the globe, lending our expertise to create better outcomes for women and babies is at the core of Texas Children’s mission and vision. Collaboration enables us to help advance the fields of obstetrics, gynecology, fetal and neonatal care for the benefit of all.
So what does all this mean to our patients at the Pavilion for Women? As a woman and a mom, I take pride and find comfort in knowing that Texas Children’s Hospital and its experts are truly dedicated to being on the forefront of medicine, to tackling the critical issues that affect the health of mothers and babies and to sharing its expertise in improving the safety and quality of care across Texas and beyond. At the Pavilion for Women, we continue to recruit the best and the brightest minds and we’ve made major investments in patient care, education and research to ensure patients have the best possible outcomes. Making an impact in healthcare for mothers and babies in our own backyard and across the globe is a passion we all share at Texas Children’s.