Beginning in 2012, VHHA partnered with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the March of Dimes to begin a program to significantly reduce early elective deliveries (EED). This effort began because delaying elective births until after 39 weeks gestation has been shown to improve outcomes for both mothers and babies.

Working under the joint initiative, 53 hospitals agreed to seek ways to delay early elective deliveries, and pledged to submit monthly tracking data on the total number of births at their hospital and the number of births occurring between 37 and 39 weeks.

When the project began, the state rate for EED was 8 percent. Within a year the rate dropped to 3 percent. By the end of 2016, the state’s EED rate was down to 1.3 percent with many of the participating hospitals reporting no EEDs.

To put this in perspective, the national EED average is 2 percent. Over the four-year period spanning 2012-2016, 2,320 infants were protected from harm due to planned EEDs.