Audra Meadows

Audra Meadows

Part of BWH’s mission of providing excellent patient care involves not only identifying health care inequities that some patient populations face, but also working to eliminate those disadvantages.

Closing that gap comes with challenges, but at the 2016 Minority Faculty Career Development Award Grand Rounds, held on May 4, Audra Meadows, MD, MPH, of Obstetrics and Gynecology, shed light on potential solutions.

The event—hosted by the Center for Faculty Development & Diversity’s Office for Multicultural Careers—also included recognition of this year’s MFCDA recipients, Joseph Mancias, MD, PhD, of Radiation Oncology, and Viviany Taqueti, MD, MPH, of the Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, and an honorees’ breakfast reception.

The MFCDA program, founded in 1996, provides financial support to early-career underrepresented in medicine (URM) physicians and scientists at BWH, with the goal of increasing their presence across the institution. The five-year $100,000 award is given to two URM faculty members annually, with more than 30 awards having been distributed since the program began.

During her presentation, Meadows, a 2009 MFCDA recipient, explored whether group prenatal care is the future of care in Obstetrics. Group prenatal care particularly benefits women at high risk of preterm birth and infant mortality, which includes African-Americans and women under the age of 21.

“The goals of obstetric care are a healthy mom, a healthy baby and a term delivery,” said Meadows. “But for black patients, infant mortality is higher in Boston, in Massachusetts and across the U.S. We want to know why this disparity exists and how to reduce the gap and bring infant mortality to zero.”

Meadows detailed BWH’s CenteringPregnancy® program, a partnership between BWH’s Ambulatory Obstetrics Practice and the Center for Community Health and Health Equity, which has garnered success since its launch last June. The program provides prenatal care and peer support in a group setting, as well as individual clinical evaluations and time with BWH clinicians. The women learn how to conduct self-health assessments, take their own blood pressure and record their weight. They also meet each week in groups of eight to 12, with dedicated physicians and nurses present, for 90 minutes to discuss prenatal and parenting topics.

The program is helping young women through such issues as teen pregnancy, family support and pregnancy education. Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of group prenatal care compared to traditional, individual care when it comes to pregnancy outcomes and health behaviors. Of 83 BWH participants surveyed, 100 percent reported satisfaction with their care. Additionally, the average weight of participants’ babies was a healthy 7 pounds, and the average gestation period was 39 weeks.

“CenteringPregnancy® is one of very few ongoing training programs available to expand the reach of this care model to more women, and we’re proud to be championing it here,” said Meadows.

Learn more about the MFCDA.