On Wednesday, October 26, California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley recognized Dignity Health – St. Bernardine Medical Center for achieving and surpassing a federal goal aimed at reducing cesarean births (C-sections) for first time moms with low-risk pregnancies. St. Bernardine is one of only 104 California hospitals to receive this honor.

“At St. Bernardine, our mission has always been to provide high-quality medical care and services responsive to the needs of the communities we serve. Providing safe, high quality maternity care remains at the top of that priority list,” stated Victor Waters, MD, Chief Medical Offi cer, Dignity Health – St. Bernardine Medical Center. “This esteemed statewide recognition is a testament to the teamwork, dedication and collaboration of St. Bernardine physicians and Maternal Child Health team to meet and exceed quality care standards.”

Between 1997 and 2015, California’s overall C-section rates increased sharply, from 1 in 5 births (21%) to nearly 1 in 3 (32.2%). During that same period, low-risk, first-birth C-sections increased from 19 percent to 25.6 percent. While potentially life-saving in certain circumstances, unnecessary C-sections can pose serious health risks for babies and mothers. C-sections also cost on average 50 percent more than vaginal deliveries, burdening patients and the health care system as a whole with unnecessary costs. To respond to the rapid rise in unnecessary C-sections, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set a Healthy People 2020 goal of reducing nationwide C-section rates for low-risk births to 23.9 percent. St. Bernardine has not only met that goal, it has surpassed it, reaching 20.4 percent.

“Our success is a result of keeping a keen eye on our patients and supporting their efforts for a healthy delivery,” stated Dr. Waters. “Maintaining a C-section rate at or better than the national goal is the right thing to do and we are extremely proud to be recognized for our results,” he concluded.

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