Rhode Island Hospital Requests Obstetrics Unit Approval

January 10, 2017

Critical Step in Providing Women a Single Source for Comprehensive Medical Services

Expertise in both low- and high-complexity pregnancies vital as maternal complication rates continue to increase

Rhode Island Hospital today asked the state for approval to build a 31-bed obstetrics unit, a project critical to ensuring that women in the region have access to the most comprehensive, integrated care possible. 

The complexity of obstetric care is growing as more and more pregnant women and mothers have existing medical issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Evidence suggests this trend (mothers with more medical illnesses) has led to increased complications among those women giving birth.

Rhode Island Hospital is uniquely positioned to fill the need in the region for such complex obstetric care since it is already the recognized leader for providing care to the most severely ill and complicated patients in the state. Patients will have access to urgent OB/GYN, medical and surgical services all in one location and will be able to take advantage of the comprehensive array of services Lifespan offers to proactively manage chronic illnesses such as diabetes and obesity.  

“The goal is very clear: Improve the health of women and their children across their lifetimes,” said Margaret M. Van Bree, MHA, DrPH, president of Rhode Island Hospital. “We are moving to better serve women and their children in our community at a time when changes in the population of women needing care require a new and more comprehensive approach – one that is also cost effective.” 

Rhode Island Hospital and Lifespan already have thriving OB/GYN services, including a birthing center at Newport Hospital and one of the state’s largest OB/GYN. Rhode Island Hospital’s pediatric division, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, also provides a significant portion of pediatric care in Rhode Island. The addition of this obstetrics unit will mean a seamless transition for new mothers and their children into necessary services for newborns such as immunizations, screenings, and well-baby checkups. 

Nationwide, nearly 90 percent of academic, full-service teaching hospitals – including all five teaching hospitals in Boston – provide obstetric services as part of their clinical offerings, recognizing its critical importance to the delivery of integrated care to women and children.

The application filed today with the Rhode Island Department of Health updates an earlier version, filed in January 2016. Rhode Island Hospital withdrew its submission in October 2016 in order to update the application, which had not yet been reviewed by the state. At the time, Rhode Island Hospital had notified the Department of Health that it would resubmit a new application. 

“While most women experience healthy pregnancies, chronic illnesses, delayed childbearing and other factors have led to an increased prevalence of obstetric complications such as hypertensive disorders, pulmonary embolism and many other problems,” said Margaret Miller, MD, chief of women’s services at Rhode Island Hospital and Director of Lifespan’s Women’s Medicine Collaborative.  

The new obstetrics unit will offer a full range of services for pregnant women, including services for women who want a more holistic experience, but also for women who are considered high risk or experience an unexpected pregnancy complication. Women will have better access to experts and specialized care from cardiology to hematology, surgery and more, improving and ensuring coordination between OB/GYN doctors and these specialists. 

“When women receive care in a fully-integrated model like this, outcomes improve, cost-effectiveness and value increase, and women have more choices,” Miller added. 

In its application, Rhode Island Hospital is proposing completing the obstetrics unit in 2020 at a cost of $43 million to build. The new unit will include 25 post-partum beds, six antepartum beds, and eight labor and delivery rooms. 

A world-class obstetrics program at Rhode Island Hospital will build upon Lifespan’s OB/GYN services, which include Newport Hospital’s longstanding, highly regarded obstetrics program. Lifespan also has approximately 40 OB/GYN providers through Lifespan Physician Group, Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Women’s Medicine Collaborative. Lifespan Physician Group, Obstetrics and Gynecology is the largest practice in Rhode Island, with offices in Providence and throughout the state that integrates midwives and OB/GYN physicians. Rhode Island Hospital also has a dedicated women’s medicine inpatient unit. 

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