Sept. 6, 2023 – For a seventh year running, MLK Community Healthcare’s midwife-led maternity program topped Cal Hospital Compare’s “Maternity Honor Roll,” a yearly measure of hospitals that meet or exceed a standards set for low levels of Caesarean section.
Overuse of C-sections can result in higher rates of complications for mothers like hemorrhage, transfusions, infection, and blood clots. The surgery also brings risks for babies, including higher rates of infection, respiratory complications, neonatal intensive care unit stays, and lower breastfeeding rates.
“Healthy, natural births should be every hospital’s goal and every woman’s prerogative,” said Dr. Angela Sojobi, a registered nurse midwife at MLK Community Hospital. “This recognition shows that if you trust women and give them the time and support they need, that goal is achievable.”
This year’s award reflects calendar year 2022 hospital discharge and birth certificate data from 211 California hospitals that offer maternity services and participate in the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative’s Maternal Data Center (CMQCC’s MDC).
The honor roll recognition coincides with a recent front-page Los Angeles Times story on MLK Community Healthcare’s unique, midwife-led model, which has produced superior outcomes for women in the largely African American and Latina community of South LA.
MLKCH provides 24/7 on-site support of both an obstetrician and a registered nurse-midwife, giving patients the support of a trained and empathetic nurse midwife and the emergency capabilities of an obstetrician if something goes wrong. Nurse-midwives provide more sensitive and individualized care, an especially urgent concern for Black women, who are at higher risk of dying in pregnancy and childbirth than women of other races in the U.S.
This model comes at a cost. MLKCH loses roughly $2 million a year providing maternal care to South LA residents. Many hospitals choose to close their labor and delivery departments entirely. In California, the number of hospitals with birthing services fell by a fifth between 2019 and 2020, according to a March of Dimes analysis — and more have closed their maternity units in the years since.
“The options for any maternity care – much less high-quality, empathetic care – are growing less accessible for under-resourced urban areas as well as for rural areas of California,” said Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of MLK Community Healthcare. “Maternity programs that work deserve the attention and support of our policymakers.”