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.

Moms Infographic

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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.

About Project ECHO:

The ECHO model is not traditional “telemedicine” where the specialist assumes care of the patient, but is instead telementoring, a guided practice model where the participating clinician retains responsibility for managing the patient. Project ECHO is a hub-and-spoke model developed by the University of New Mexico in which specialty facilitators deliver didactic education training sessions followed by participant-submitted, de-identified cases to review. The hub panel and spoke sites offer feedback and suggestions on the presented cases. This collaboration among peers fosters opportunities for increased competencies and promotes consistency among Montana’s various providers. ECHO clinics are grant-funded and there is no cost participate.

MOMS Project ECHO clinics are online clinical training sessions providing didactic education, patient case presentations and mentoring/feedback provided by a panel of specialists on an array of maternal health topics. Sessions occur the 2nd & 4th Tuesdays of each month from 12:00 -1:30 PM.

About Simulation in Motion-Montana (SIM-MT):

Simulation in Motion Montana (SIM-MT) trainings are on-site medical simulations designed to increase team performance, reduce medical errors, and improve staff competencies and patient outcomes. Training is available for clinicians at both birthing and non-birthing hospitals.