According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Montana has the 6th highest maternal mortality ratio in the nation. Racial and rural health disparities plague Montana’s health system with 52 of Montana’s 56 counties having at least one Medically-Underserved Area (MEA) designation.
The Montana Obstetrics & Maternal Support (MOMS) program was created to connect rural providers to obstetrical/gynecological, perinatal, mental health and substance abuse specialists to build competency and consistency across perinatal providers.
“By bringing more resources to rural Montana, we hope to improve maternal health outcomes by collaborating on high-risk pregnancies, promoting the importance of prenatal care in the first trimester and identifying and consulting on these cases early in the process.”
~ C.H. “Tersh” McCracken III, MD, FACOG, an OBGYN at Billings Clinic and Medical Director of MOMS.
The MOMS program guides the multidisciplinary collaboration of maternal and perinatal health providers, programs, resources and initiatives to deliver training, resources and support to rural healthcare providers in Montana as they care for their perinatal patients.
Using Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), urban-based experts will be linked to rural providers to share their expertise via mentoring, guidance, feedback and didactic education. MOMS will leverage existing telemedicine efforts to disperse evidence-based practices to rural providers in efforts to address shortages in OB/GYN specialists and mid-level providers of maternal healthcare across rural Montana.
“This is an excellent opportunity to elevate healthcare services for pregnant and postpartum women who have little or no access to high levels of obstetrics care … The launch of this program gets us one step closer to ensuring that every woman in Montana has equal opportunity to access affordable and quality care.”
~Montana Governor Steve Bullock
The MOMS grant also seeks to revive the Montana Maternal Mortality Review task force to be charged with reviewing select cases and providing recommendations on prevention activities when appropriate. In partnership with MOMS, the University of Montana and Rural Institute are tasked with collecting and analyzing maternal health data to improve maternal health interventions and outcomes.