GREENVILLE, S.C.— Dr. Amy Crockett, a maternal-fetal medicine physician with Greenville Health System, was named the winner of the prestigious John P. McNulty Prize for her leadership in reducing preterm births in South Carolina by expanding access to CenteringPregnancy group prenatal care. Crockett will accept the award, which comes with a $100,000 prize to further these efforts, during a November ceremony in New York.
South Carolina has one of the highest rates of preterm birth in the United States. More than 11 percent of women in the state deliver preterm (before 37 weeks gestational age), and nearly 15 percent of African-American women give birth early. The South Carolina CenteringPregnancy Expansion Project, led by Crockett, seeks to decrease rates of preterm birth and to decrease the racial disparity in preterm birth by improving access to CenteringPregnancy group prenatal care. Since 2012, the project has provided training and start-up funding which has allowed 18 obstetric practices around the South Carolina to begin offering CenteringPregnancy group prenatal care. To date, more than 3,200 women have been able to participate in CenteringPregnancy groups because of the project, and the results are impressive. The rate of preterm birth for women in CenteringPregnancy is 8 percent, which represents a 34 percent reduction.
“Babies that are born too soon or too small can suffer life-long consequences, not only in terms of chronic health conditions like asthma and cerebral palsy, but also learning and behavioral problems that can cause problems in school,” said Crockett. “The work that we are doing is making a difference for South Carolina’s families, and it is humbling to receive this prestigious international recognition for the work that is being done across the state.”
In addition to fewer preterm births, babies born to women in CenteringPregnancy groups are less likely to require admission to the neonatal intensive care unit and fewer infants are born with a low birthweight (less than five pounds). Research by Crockett in collaboration with the Division of Medicaid Policy Research, Institute for Families in Society at the University of South Carolina has shown CenteringPregnancy is associated with significant healthcare savings from infant healthcare costs in the first year of life from these three outcomes, representing more than $10 million dollars in savings to date.
The $100,000 received from the John P. McNulty Prize will allow Crockett to support practices in rural areas of South Carolina that otherwise may not have enough patients to regularly offer CenteringPregnancy groups, possibly by using telemedicine to conduct virtual groups. The money will also be used to conduct research into understanding the biologic mechanism by which CenteringPregnancy works to reduce preterm birth.
Crockett was one of four people named a 2016 John P. McNulty Prize Laureate during the summer. The other three John P. McNulty Prize Laureates are from India, Panama and South Africa. Their work created jobs in rural South Africa, empowered women in the Himalayas to take control of their livelihoods and demobilized gangs while shifting community attitudes on criminal justice in Panama City.
A jury, including former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, international statesman Olara Otunnu and international development expert Brizio Biondi-Morra, selected the winner.
“When we think of complications at birth or infant mortality, we often think about developing countries dealing with abject poverty, weak infrastructure or broken human services,” Albright said. “Yet, this is occurring right here in the United States. With CenteringPregnancy, South Carolina and Dr. Crockett are pioneering a model of change that has global applications for women and children everywhere.”
The South Carolina CenteringPregnancy Expansion Project is funded by the South Carolina Chapter of the March of Dimes and the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Amy turned a desire to create better health outcomes into something tangible and meaningful, and she successfully formalized and institutionalized everything along the way,” said Christian Soura, director of the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
Crockett is a Liberty Fellow from the Class of 2013. She made expanding CenteringPregnancy across South Carolina her fellowship project.
CenteringPregnancy is an evidence-based model of group prenatal care that combines routine medical care with social support and interactive health education. The Centering Healthcare Institute, which is based in Boston, maintains the curriculum, and evaluates and approves sites offering this trademarked model of group prenatal care. Groups of up to eight to 12 pregnant women at approximately the same gestational age are brought together 10 times over six months. Physical assessment by a credentialed medical care provider occurs within the group space, and women actively participate in their own medical care by taking responsibility for measuring their weight and blood pressure. Each two-hour session follows an educational curriculum that includes information about health and nutrition, childbirth preparation, stress reduction, relationships and parenting. Facilitated group discussion encourages active participation. There also is an emphasis on relationship building which results in improved social support for the group members.
South Carolina is the first to develop a coordinated statewide network with the model. The following practices are included in the statewide expansion:
- AnMed Health Family Medicine, Anderson, S.C.
- Blue Ridge Women’s Care in Seneca, S.C.
- Carolina OB/Gyn, Georgetown and Murrell’s Inlet, S.C.
- Carolina OB/Gyn in Spartanburg, S.C.
- Carolina Women’s Center, Clinton, S.C.
- Coastal Carolina Ob/Gyn, Conway, S.C.
- ** Greenville Health System OB/Gyn Center, Greenville, S.C.
- Lexington Women’s Health, Lexington, S.C.
- McLeod OB/Gyn Associates in Dillon, S.C.
- McLeod Women’s Care, Clarendon, S.C.
- Medical University of South Carolina Women’s Health, Charleston, S.C.
- Montgomery Center for Family Medicine, Greenwood, S.C.
- ** Mountain View Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pickens, S.C.
- North Central Family Medicine Center, Rock Hill, S.C.
- Palmetto Health Women’s Center in Columbia, S.C.
- Parkridge OB/Gyn in Columbia, S.C.
- Sumter OB/Gyn, Sumter, S.C.
- University of South Carolina Women’s Specialty Clinics, Columbia, S.C.
** These two sites were offering CenteringPregnancy prenatal care prior to the initiation of the expansion project, but have been included in the evaluation portion of the project.