Howard County General Named Blue Distinction Center® in Maternity Services

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sharon Sopp, 410-740-7646, ssopp1@jhmi.edu

December 18, 2017

Columbia, MD – To help prospective parents identify hospitals that may deliver quality maternity care, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) announced that Howard County General Hospital has been designated to receive the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s (BCBSA) Blue Distinction® Center for Maternity Care designation, a new designation under the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

Nearly four million babies are born in the U.S. annually, making childbirth the most common cause of hospitalization. This new BCBSA Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program evaluates hospitals on several quality measures, including the percentage of newborns that fall into the category of early elective delivery, an ongoing concern in the medical community. Compared with babies born 39 weeks or later, early term infants face higher risks of infant death and respiratory ailments such as respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia and respiratory failure, among other conditions. These babies also have a higher rate of admission to Neonatal Intensive Care Units.

HCGH’s Maternal/Child Services welcomes more than 3,500 babies into the world each year. In addition to the traditional obstetrical services, HCGH also offers the Center for Maternal Fetal Medicine, which cares for high-risk expectant mothers. Additionally, the hospital’s Lundy Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a state-of-the-art Level III+ facility that provides care for newborn babies who need specialized attention because of premature birth or medical conditions. In October 2016, HCGH achieved "Baby Friendly" designation by successfully implementing the American Academy of Pediatrics-endorsed Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, developed by the World Health Organization/UNICEF.

BCBSA companies across the nation have recognized more than 280 hospitals as Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care. Hospitals recognized for these designations were assessed using a combination of publicly available quality information and cost measures derived from BCBSA companies’ medical claims.

For more information about the program, visit bcbs.com/bluedistinction.

About Howard County General Hospital

A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine is a not-for-profit health care provider with 267 licensed beds located in Columbia, Maryland. A comprehensive, acute-care medical center, HCGH offers a full range of services, from neonatal care and oncology to outpatient treatment and critical care.

The hospital has a professional staff of more than 900 physicians and allied health professionals, representing more than 90 specialties and subspecialties; a workforce of more than 1,800 individuals and over 300 volunteers.

About CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

In its 79th year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of BCBSA, is a not-for-profit health care company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.2 million individuals and groups in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2016, CareFirst invested nearly $44 million to improve overall health, and increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of health care throughout its market areas.

About Blue Distinction Centers

In accordance with BCBSA standards, Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for facilities located in its own service area; for details, contact your Local Blue Plan. National criteria for BDC are displayed on bcbs.com. Individual outcomes may vary. For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan and ask your provider before making an appointment. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for non-covered charges or other losses or damages resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.