Health Victories

Wellstar MCG Health is first in region with top-tier maternal care designation

Written by Natalie Walters

Wellstar MCG Health’s Perinatal unit is one of two in the state of Georgia to earn a Level 4 Maternal Level of Care designation, the highest-level designation awarded to maternity care facilities. 

This profound achievement is further validation that our hospital is equipped to provide you and your baby with the highest level of specialized obstetrical care available in the country.  

“The designation is a testament to our physician and nursing leadership who have been diligent in building a highly skilled and knowledgeable team to provide the safest and highest level of quality maternity care,” said Beth Young, Perinatal Nurse Manager at Wellstar MCG Health. “They want to ensure that as an academic facility, we are providing the highest level of care possible.”

As part of the verification process, the team submitted extensive data, such as C-section and infection rates, Young said. There was also a two-day visit from The Joint Commission, the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in healthcare. The Joint Commission representative spent time looking at WMCG’s Perinatal policies and procedures,  interdisciplinary team’s charting and documentation, as well as observing how their teams worked together in the operating room and in patient rounds, Young said.

“The surveyor was very impressed with the care we are providing to patients,” Young said. “She even took a copy of some of our policies to show to other hospitals that are working on improving the quality and safety of their maternal level of care.”

This new maternity care facility verification program is relatively new. It was started in 2022 by the Georgia Department of Public Health in collaboration with The Joint Commission to help address the nation’s maternal mortality rate, which is the highest among wealthy nations.

The expansion of this program signifies that the Georgia Department of Public Health has agreed to use The Joint Commission’s Maternal Levels of Care Verification Program in its designation of levels of maternal care for all eligible Georgia hospitals. Designations under the MLC program are based on standards from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  

Georgia was the first state to collaborate with an accreditation organization to address the maternal mortality rate issue. However, three other states have followed Georgia’s lead, including Florida, Missouri and Michigan.   

The program is voluntary for hospitals, which can receive Level I, II, III, or IV for neonatal and maternal services. Of the ten hospitals in Georgia that have opted into the program so far, only Wellstar MCG Health and Northside Hospital in Atlanta have received the Level IV Maternal Center Designation. The program requires re-verification every three years.

Wellstar MCG Health’s Level IV achievement means that it has the capability to care for the most critically ill pregnant women and babies before, during and after delivery.

“This highlights what makes our program so special and is the reason why so many patients drive over two hours to receive the highest level of dedicated obstetrical care available here at Wellstar MCG Health in Augusta”, said Young.