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Steward Healthy Beginnings Program Now Offers Free Doula Care for Steward Health Choice Members

May 15, 2019

(NEEDHAM, MA) Steward Health Choice, the largest Medicaid Accountable Care Organization in Massachusetts with more than 120,000 covered lives, has launched an innovative pilot program providing doula care to its members, free-of-charge across the state. The pilot program is a component of Steward’s Healthy Beginnings Program, which provides care coordination, free childbirth education classes, and other benefits to its pregnant and postpartum members.

A doula is a trained, non-clinical professional who provides educational, emotional, and physical support to parents and their families throughout pregnancy, birth, and the early postpartum period. “The role of the doula does not replace that of the obstetrician, midwife, or nurse; rather, the doula works collaboratively with the obstetric care team to support the patient and family,” states Dr. Isabel Morais, Chair of Obstetrics & Gynecology, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and Director of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Steward Medical Group.

Research indicates that patients who have a doula are more likely to report a positive birth experience and breastfeed their babies. They are simultaneously less likely to be induced, use an epidural, or deliver by cesarean. Some studies have also demonstrated that doulas reduce the length of labor, as well as the likelihood that a newborn will be admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the chances that the parent will experience postpartum depression.

“Doula care for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is a wise investment in the health and well-being of parents and their newborns. There is a measurable, positive impact in both the short- and long-term, and Steward Health Choice is excited to make this service available to our members,” said Deb Yolin, Vice President of Clinical Programs, Steward Health Care Network.

Steward Health Choice is prepared to provide free doula care to all members giving birth at either St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center or Norwood Hospital, as well as high-risk members giving birth at other hospitals around the state. Through Steward’s partnership with Accompany Doula Care, a Boston-based multi-lingual, multi-cultural collective of doulas, members receive continuous labor support as well as prenatal and postpartum home visits from a doula who is matched to meet their individual needs. The doulas work collaboratively within the members’ care team, which includes a care coordinator and in some cases a social worker to address social determinants of health such as housing, finances, transportation, and legal assistance.

Steward’s Healthy Beginnings Program is committed to providing comprehensive support to its pregnant and postpartum members. “Doulas provide a unique and valuable service to childbearing families. The doula program is designed to expand upon our existing programs to build trust, bridge language and cultural gaps, and ultimately improve outcomes and the experience for birthing families,” said Sarah Hodin, Program Manager, Women’s and Family Health Services, Steward Health Care Network. The doula program launched in April 2019.

About Steward Health Choice – Massachusetts

Steward Health Choice – Massachusetts is a MassHealth ACO plan offered by Steward Health Care Network. Steward Health Choice – MA cares for over 120,000 members across the state. We believe in a personal approach to health care right in your community. We built our health care plan around our members. Our goal is to give members quality health care, programs, services and Extra Benefits to support them on their path to wellness. The Steward Health Care system is the largest private, tax-paying physician-led health care network in the United States.

Additional information is available at www.steward.org