Perinatal health care champions learn and network at FPQC’s 2019 eighth annual conference

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More than 200 perinatal health care workers and advocates joined the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative (FPQC) for the eighth annual conference April 4-5 in Tampa, Fla.

The FPQC, based at the USF College of Public Health’s Chiles Center, aims to advance perinatal health care quality and patient safety for all of Florida’s mothers and infants. 

Nurses, physicians, community health workers, mental health specialists, family advocates, and several nationally-recognized QI experts joined the FPQC for the conference.  

AWHONN (Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses) members at the FPQC 2019 Conference. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Pelligrino)

“The conference brings cutting edge practice updates to Florida’s health care leadership to improve the health and health care of Florida’s mother and babies,” FPQC director Dr. William Sappenfield said.

Sappenfield delivered the “State of the Collaborative” address where he recognized partners, described ongoing and upcoming statewide initiatives and trainings, and explained expanded high-touch outreach strategies.

Sappenfield said this year’s event also included national experts on the racial disparities in health care quality for mothers and babies.

“National attention has focused on the large black/white disparity in maternal mortality, morbidity and care in the U.S.,” he said. “Dr. Elizabeth Howell on maternal issues and Dr. Jochen Profit on sick newborn issues brought attention to these critical issues in health care.”

Patient advocate Lelis Vernon followed the opening address with an insightful talk on patient and family-centered care in quality improvement initiatives, sharing her own experiences as a neonatal intensive care unit mom.

From left: Dr. Bill Sappenfield, Lelis Vernon, Dr. Linda Detman, Dr. Maya Balakrishnan, and Dr. Judette Louis. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Pelligrino)

Vernon elucidated the framework for family involvement in quality improvement and levels of involvement to a largely clinical audience, curious how they can better support families within their hospital units.

She also discussed encouraging families to do their own “Plan, Do, Study, Act” cycles to help encourage full participation in the care of and decision-making for their newborns.

Dr. Elizabeth Howell’s presentation on disparities in maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity was particularly timely given the recent national attention on these crises. Howell is the director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

She reminded the audience that black mothers are three to four times more likely to die during the perinatal period than white mothers.

She drew her own experiences as a provider and QI specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital, as well as co-developing the Reduction of Peripartum Racial-Ethnic Disparities Bundle with a nationwide workgroup of the National Partnership for Maternal Safety, that includes FPQC certified nurse midwife leader Dr. Jessica Brumley.

After a networking lunch and poster walk featuring FPQC partner hospital QI projects, Dr. Jochen Profit, neonatologist with Stanford Medicine and chief quality officer for the California Perinatal Quality Care Collaborative discussed disparities in NICU care and maternal and infant outcomes.

“NICU is not a social cocoon,” he said, stressing the need for attention to social determinants of health.

He also pushed for better recognition of implicit biases in health care and suggested that disparities-sensitive family centered care may be a tangible method to begin to address inequitable outcomes.

FPQC director Dr. Bill Sappenfield and Dr. Jochen Profit. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Pelligrino)

The FPQC’s 2019 Curran Award for measurable and sustained positive change in a major perinatal quality improvement went to Dr. Josef Cortez and his team at University of Florida-Jacksonville, for their submission “Choosing Wisely: Antibiotic Stewardship in the NICU.”

Two teams tied for this year’s conference poster award: Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Children for their submission, “Decreasing the Primary NTSV C-Section Rate: A Multidisciplinary Approach” and University of Central Florida/HCA GME Consortium of Greater Orlando and Osceola Regional Medical Center for their submission, “Decreasing Opioid Use and Waste after Routine Cesarean Delivery.”

“I left the conference feeling excited and empowered by the FPQC to continue the work I do,” said a conference attendee during the post conference review. “I learned that patient perception is a key to change.”

Plans are already underway for next year’s conference, according to Sappenfield, and will be held April 16-17, 2020 in Tampa, Fla.

“We will be focusing on the challenges related to reducing Florida’s high cesarean rates, sharing Florida Medicaid’s effort to improve birth outcomes, and other hot topics,” Sappenfield said.

Story by Nicole Pelligrino and Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health