In an effort to create better outcomes for mothers and babies, foster community for expecting patients, and increase equity in healthcare, a new program at MyMichigan Medical Center Mt. Pleasant
is bringing pregnant patients together to provide routine prenatal care in a group setting.
The CenteringPregnancy program brings together a group of eight to 10 pregnant patients who are all due around the same time, providing routine prenatal care in a group setting. MyMichigan Medical Center Mt. Pleasant started the first class of its CenteringPregnancy program in December, making it the first of its kind in Central Michigan.
“We refer to MyMichigan Medical Center Mt. Pleasant as the Medical Center of the future. That means we are always looking for opportunities to deliver care that better meets the needs of our patients,” says Jennifer Marar, director of operations at MyMichigan Medical Center Mt. Pleasant. “CenteringPregnancy is one of these exciting opportunities. Patients still receive all of the prenatal care they normally would get, but the setting also allows for additional support from their obstetrician, care team, and the other expectant moms in their group. Patients will receive support and learn from their healthcare providers and from each other, as well. We are very pleased to be able to offer this program in our Mt. Pleasant facility first.”
Ashley Brenner, Community Health Supervisor for MyMichigan Medical Centers in Alma, Clare and Mt. Pleasant.
The program is offered through a partnership with the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance (MiHIA), which received grant funding to implement the CenteringPregnancy program in the region, explains Ashley Brenner, Community Health Supervisor for MyMichigan Medical Centers in Alma, Clare, and Mt. Pleasant.
The program consists of 10 sessions, beginning around the start of a patient’s second trimester. At each two-hour session, patients have time for a one-on-one visit with their OB/GYN for a belly check, discussion of any private concerns, and a weight and blood pressure check. The remaining time is spent in a group setting discussing issues that are relevant to the group such as nutrition, exercise, stress, signs of labor, infant care, breastfeeding, and postpartum.
“The whole purpose of this is to create a community; and, in creating a community, we also are creating health equity among the members of our community,” says Diane Traenkle, D.O., obstetrician/gynecologist and one of the CenteringPregnancy providers.
One of the ways the program hopes to create community is by bringing in outside agencies to talk to the patients in the program about various services offered locally that could benefit new parents.
We know that we can’t change health alone - it takes a village. By bringing those resources to the patients – and multiple patients at a time – it will help us improve their health,” Brenner says. “We’ve opened this up to community agencies as well; and, we’ve received an overwhelmingly positive response from them, which tells me that they see a need for this program too.”
Diane Traenkle, D.O., obstetrician/gynecologist and Erin DeCloux, M.D., obstetrician/gynecologist, are the CenteringPregnancy providers.
Dr. Traenkle says another way this program is creating community is by having a diverse group of patients in the program.
“This promotes health equity – we’re bringing the same healthcare to people regardless of race, socioeconomic status, gender identity, or other factors. And that prevents any implicit bias in medicine or healthcare,” she explains.
She adds that first-time parents and those who already have kids will also be together in the same class. This will help drive the conversation not only between the patients and providers during discussion time, but between the patients themselves.
Group discussions during the CenteringPregnancy program will include topics such as nutrition, exercise, stress, signs of labor, infant care, breastfeeding, and postpartum.
“The way we traditionally give medical care is one-on-one. What we’re gaining from a group program is the patients will work with each other to educate each other on local services that will help the whole group, not just the individual,” Dr. Traenkle says. “We do a lot of social work as obstetricians. This gives us the opportunity to share our knowledge about services, but also learn about services we didn’t know about. That’s the part that makes healthcare more equitable. It’s shared information.”
She explains that the shared information from one patient to another may be about childbirth, but it may also end up being about a local food bank, a thrift store that has lots of baby clothes, or a mom-to-mom exchange that’s happening.
The hope is that the community which is created during the CenteringPregnancy program may last past the 10 sessions and after childbirth, during a time when it is common for parents to feel a sense of loneliness as they care for a new child.
The CenteringPregnancy consists of 10 sessions, beginning around the start of a patient’s second trimester. At each two-hour session, each patient has time for a one-on-one visit with their OB/GYN.
“Patients will be in a group of their peers. They will have others to talk with and create a bond with that they can establish during pregnancy and take away after pregnancy as well,” Brenner says.
Brenner says offering the CenteringPregnancy program at MyMichigan Medical Center Mt. Pleasant may just be the start of what could be something bigger, including offering the program at other MyMichigan Medical Center facilities or even expanding to offer other “Centering” programs such as CenteringParenting.
“We’ve talked about opening CenteringPregnancy in our other regions as well, but also other Centering programs,” she says. “Offering the CenteringPregnancy program here is a gateway to other opportunities.”
Those who are interested in enrolling in the CenteringPregnancy program can call (989) 772-3009.