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February 09, 2021

DES MOINES, IA – Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has recognized seven South Dakota health care facilities as best-in-class for maternity care as part of the Blue Distinction® Centers for Specialty Care program. These noteworthy facilities have been designated as either Blue Distinction® Centers (BDC), showing expertise in delivering safer, more efficient and improved health outcomes, or as Blue Distinction® Centers+ (BDC+), for delivering the same or higher quality care as Blue Distinction Centers while also meeting key requirements for cost efficiency.

The Maternity Care program was designed to respond to the clinical challenges in maternity care. Overall, episiotomy rates were 49 percent less at Blue Distinction Centers (BDC and BDC+) than at those at non-Blue Distinction Centers. In 2018, BDC/BDC+ facilities across the country External Site cared for more than 40 percent of Blue Cross and Blue Shield commercially insured women giving birth. Additionally, for BDC+ facilities, cost of care episodes for vaginal and cesarean births are 20 percent less than those at non-Blue Distinction Centers+ facilities.

To receive a Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care designation, a health care facility must have a maternal quality improvement program and conduct drills and simulations for adverse events. In addition, it must meet clinical outcome metrics at an even higher standard than the program's last designation cycle. In addition to meeting these quality thresholds, facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers+ are, on average, 20 percent more cost-efficient per episode of care compared to their peers.

Wellmark has recognized the following South Dakota facilities for having higher quality in maternity care:

Provider/Health System City Designation
Avera McKennan Sioux Falls Blue Distinction Center+
Avera Sacred Heart Yankton Blue Distinction Center+
Avera St. Luke's Aberdeen Blue Distinction Center+
Avera St. Mary's Pierre Blue Distinction Center+
Sanford USD Medical Center Sioux Falls Blue Distinction Center+
Avera Queen of Peace Hospital Mitchell Blue Distinction Center
Rapid City Regional Hospital Rapid City Blue Distinction Center

In 2020, the Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care Program was expanded beyond traditional outcome measures to include assessments of internal quality improvement, data collection and dissemination, and internal protocols that better address clinical quality and equity issues in maternity care. Facility evaluations are based on objective measures developed with input from the medical community and leading accreditation and quality organizations. The goal is to provide a best-in-class maternity care designation that gives new and expectant parents access to higher quality and affordable maternity care, close to home.

The Blue Distinction Specialty Care program remains a trusted and valuable source for patients seeking quality care in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, cellular immunotherapy, fertility care, knee and hip replacements, maternity care, spine surgery, transplants and substance use treatment and recovery.

For more information about the program and for a complete listing of designated facilities, visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction External Site.