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Oregon Perinatal Collaborative will launch initiatives to improve maternal, childhood health outcomes

OPC secured $1 million from state legislature last session, will meet Oct. 6 to discuss statewide priorities, with focus on equity
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The Oregon Perinatal Collaborative will meet this week to discuss the state of maternal health in Oregon and explore new initiatives that can reduce preventable illness, injury and death. (OHSU/Christine Torres Hicks)
The Oregon Perinatal Collaborative will meet this week to discuss the state of maternal health in Oregon and explore new initiatives that can reduce preventable illness, injury and death. (Getty Images)

For more than a decade, the Oregon Perinatal Collaborative, or OPC, has been working to improve outcomes in Oregon for babies, mothers and those who are pregnant — especially individuals who are Black and Indigenous — who disproportionately experience preventable illnesses, injuries and deaths.

OPC received $1 million from the Oregon Legislature during the 2023 session to advance these goals. The new funding will support initiatives to decrease maternal and infant illness and death, with a focus on equity and decreasing disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes in urban and rural areas across Oregon.

Founded by Oregon Health & Science University and other partners in 2011, the OPC works to advocate for improved maternal and newborn outcomes through collaboration and implementation of evidence-based practice and policy change throughout the state of Oregon. Previously, the bulk of its funding came from the Centers for Disease Control. State funding will allow the collaborative to maintain and expand its programs.

Aaron Caughey, M.D., Ph.D. (OHSU)
Aaron B. Caughey, M.D., Ph.D. (OHSU)

“We are in a maternal and infant health crisis, and addressing this crisis is not something that can be done in a silo,” said Aaron Caughey M.D., Ph.D., chair of the OPC Steering Committee and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the OHSU School of Medicine. “This work requires collaboration across our health systems, which is why OPC’s efforts are so crucial. We’re grateful for the state’s investment in OPC and look forward to seeing the continued impacts these initiatives will have on the health of Oregonians.”

The new state funding will allow OPC to not only maintain current programs, but also implement new health improvement initiatives in Oregon, including expanding efforts to treat and prevent substance use disorder during pregnancy and postpartum, and continuing the work of the Oregon Maternal Data Center, started in 2015, which reports on births in Oregon and provides critical data to each OPC member hospital.

This week, OPC will meet for its 2023 Annual Summit, hosting speakers from around the state and country. The agenda includes sessions on key health issues among mothers and those who are pregnant — such as hypertension, mental health and substance use disorders — and will facilitate discussions of maternal health in Oregon and what is needed to drive improvement in care quality and patient safety.

In addition to OHSU, members of OPC include March of Dimes; Legacy Health; Providence Health & Services; Oregon Medical Association; Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine; Healthy Birth Initiative; American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists Oregon; Oregon Affiliate of the American College of Nurse Midwives; Northwest Neonatal Improvement Priority Alliance; Kaiser Permanente; Comagine Health; Samaritan Health Services; and Oregon Midwifery Council.

“This is an important example of Oregon investing in maternal health and birthing at the state level while recognizing that to do so requires the collective voice of clinicians, health systems, and the community,” said Laurel Durham, Senior Director of Women and Children’s Services, Providence Health & Services. “Providence looks forward to building on the foundation that is in place, with an even more focused effort to understand and address the highest priority areas, including long standing disparities in outcomes.”

“Comagine Health is excited to engage in such vital work in our community. The Oregon Perinatal Collaborative benefits one of our most vulnerable populations,” said Sara Hallvik, Vice President, Data Solutions at Comagine Health. “We’re committed to improving maternal health and have a long-standing history of partnering with key organizations in Oregon to identify and implement data-driven quality improvement initiatives. We look forward to continuing to provide key analytic insights through the Oregon Maternal Data Center.”

March of Dimes said: “As a founding member organization March of Dimes-Oregon is committed to continuing our partnership with OPC to help ensure all pregnant persons and newborns have the opportunity to achieve optimal health regardless of income, gender, race or ethnicity or zip code.”

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