Saint Peter’s University Hospital is 1st in U.S. to earn Level IV Maternal Care Verification

Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick became the first hospital in the nation to be recognized as a Level IV maternal care verified facility from the Joint Commission.

The recognition, offered in collaboration with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,  is the highest level attainable and requires an arduous review process. The Maternal Levels of Care verification is valid for three years.

Saint Peter’s also earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Perinatal Care, a symbol of quality that reflects the organization’s commitment to providing safe and quality patient care for mothers and infants leading up to, during and after birth.

The Joint Commission’s Maternal Levels of Care Verification program is intended to provide an objective assessment of a facility’s capabilities and verifies that a hospital has the expertise, equipment and resources in place for a patient’s specific needs and risk level.

As a Level IV facility, Saint Peter’s is recognized for its onsite medical and surgical care of the most complex maternal conditions and critically ill pregnant women and babies before, during and after pregnancy.

Dr. Carlos Benito, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, obviously was thrilled to hear the news.

“It is a tremendous honor to be the first hospital in the country to receive the Joint Commission’s Maternal Levels of Care Verification as a Level IV facility,” he said. “While Saint Peter’s has long been recognized regionally for its comprehensive care for expectant mothers and newborns, the Joint Commission’s verification offers further validation that we are equipped to deliver all levels of care, from low-risk to the most complicated cases.”

Saint Peter’s recently expanded the ability to view fetal heart rate monitoring for a mother, whether she’s in labor and delivery or in the adult intensive care unit, by looking at one big monitor that’s tracking all the information for providers on all floors. This procedure increases situational awareness, allowing monitoring as to what’s happening with babies in every unit.

Level IV status includes verification for meeting the criteria required for Level I which is defined as “basic care” — caring for low- to moderate-risk pregnancies, demonstrating the ability to detect, stabilize and initiate management of unanticipated maternal-fetal or neonatal problems that occur during antepartum, intrapartum or postpartum period until the patient can be transferred to a facility at which the specialty maternal care is available, such as Saint Peter’s.

Saint Peter’s underwent a comprehensive two-day on-site review by a Joint Commission surveyor to verify the level of care provided. The evaluation’s goal is to observe and assess best practices, including compliance with the organization’s policies and procedures related to maternity care.

In addition to speaking directly with patients and tracking them through all phases of care, the surveyor interviewed staff; assessed Saint Peter’s performance improvement plan; reviewed staff education; and completed a full review of the hospital’s credentialing/privileging process related to maternal health care.

Unit tours included observation and inspection of every stage of care and interaction, from admission to labor and delivery, as well as to the neonatal intensive care unit. The assessment also included oversight of processes related to patient education and staff communication.