The Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative Launches to Improve Health Care for Moms and Babies

Ellen DiDomenico, deputy secretary of the state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs addresses PA PQC Learning Collaborative participants in Harrisburg on April 24.

PITTSBURGH, April 24 – Pennsylvania became the 35th state with a Perinatal Quality Collaborative (PQC) during a statewide kick-off on April 24 in Harrisburg with over 230 healthcare professionals and partners attending. The Collaborative ( was formed to promote the rapid adoption of best practices to improve maternity care for mothers and infants and to prevent needless mortalities. Over 40 birthing hospitals or facilities and over 10 health plans from across the Commonwealth have joined the PA PQC. These community partners will also collaborate to improve care for pregnant and postpartum women and newborns affected by opioids. The PQC will be addressing other quality markers in years to come.

This launch of the statewide PQC is an important step in responding to a tragic escalation of maternal mortality and morbidity in Pennsylvania and across the country. The rate of maternal mortality in the U.S. is three times greater than any other developed country, five times greater than Australia and other Commonwealth nations, and rising. More moms are dying today than 20 years ago. In Pennsylvania, the rate has doubled since 1994, and it is 2.6 times higher for black women than for white women. Contributing to these numbers, pregnancy-associated deaths related to substance use disorders are also rising due to the opioid epidemic. In Pennsylvania, the opioid use rate per maternal hospital stays has significantly increased from a rate of 3.0 per 1,000 stays in 2000-2001 to a rate of 19.6 per 1,000 stays in 2016-2017.

In partnership with the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) and the Women's Health Activist Movement Global (WHAMglobal), the Wolf Administration is contributing $500,000 to support the creation of the PA PQC. The contribution is part of the $55.9 million Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Association grant to bolster the state's response to prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. The PA PQC is also supported by a $120,000 grant from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation.

"This is a statewide effort with strong leadership from maternity and neonatal providers, health systems, delivery sites, health plans, state agencies, and other stakeholders across the Commonwealth," said Robert Ferguson, director of Government Grants and Policy for JHF and its non-profit operating arms, including WHAMglobal. JHF and WHAMglobal are helping to standup and administer the PA PQC.

"Although everyone throughout the Commonwealth has been affected by the opioid crisis, there are few more vulnerable populations than pregnant women and their babies," said Department of Drug and Alcohol Secretary Jen Smith. "We are happy to support, through action and funding, the critically important work of Pennsylvania's PQC to provide high quality, data driven improvements to our health care and treatment systems – while ultimately providing a better quality of life for the tiniest Pennsylvanians."

The PA PQC is leveraging statewide efforts by serving as an action arm of the Pennsylvania Department of Health's Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee. It will disseminate guidelines from the Multi-Disciplinary Workgroup on Infants with Substance Exposure (MDWISE), a program of the Department of Human Services, Department of Health, and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.

A regional PQC in the northeast, the Northeastern Pennsylvania PQC (NEPaPQC, is affiliated with the PA PQC. The NEPaPQC is comprised of insurers and delivery hospitals located in 22 counties of northeastern and northcentral Pennsylvania. Funded by the Geisinger Health Plan and Geisinger Clinic, the NEPaPQC aims to improve the care rendered to mothers and babies affected by opioid use during pregnancy. The NEPaPQC is aligned with the goals of the PA PQC and will provide additional support to regional hospitals enrolled in the PA PQC.

To help form the PA PQC, statewide work groups identified and shared specific best practice interventions for maternal mortality, maternal opioid use disorder, and neonatal abstinence syndrome. PA PQC teams from birth sites will participate in Learning Collaborative sessions, launch quality improvement projects around common aims, and track the impact of their collective work through an online data dashboard. Similarly, the PA PQC teams from health plans will participate in Learning Collaborative sessions, assist their providers on quality improvement projects, and provide feedback to the providers.

"This has been a long time coming and much needed but there is so much enthusiasm in the state for the PA PQC," said Maribeth McLaughlin, MPM, BSN, RN, vice president of Women's Health Services at UPMC. "There is an incredible amount of expertise here and we're working in a collaborative manner."

"The PA PQC validates what we are innovating at a local level," noted Marcia Klein-Patel, MD, PhD, FACOG, vice chair of the Women and Children Institute at Allegheny Health Network. "Whether it's around substance use, mental health, social determinants of health, or clinical best practices, we can work together as a collaborative to identify and disseminate the data and information that improves care for women."


To learn more about the data driving the PA PQC, identified interventions, or additional information about the PA PQC, please contact Scotland Huber at 412-594-2553 or


The Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) is a public charity that offers a unique blend of research, education, grantmaking and program management to advance the quality of clinical care and health of populations, with a focus on improving the quality, efficiency, and safety of health care. JHF and its three supporting organizations — the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative (PRHI), Health Careers Futures (HCF), and the Women's Health Activist Movement Global (WHAMglobal) — are located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and serve a national and global audience. JHF is also a founding member of the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI). For more information, visit


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