Fort Walton Beach, FL – Fort Walton Beach Medical Center (FWBMC) was honored by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) District XII (Florida) and the March of Dimes for reducing the number of early elective inductions and cesarean deliveries with a special recognition banner. FWBMC recently met the criteria to qualify for this distinction, which includes achieving a rate for elective deliveries before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy of five percent or lower and that they have policies in place to prevent such deliveries. FWBMC is one of only 52 hospitals in Florida recognized for successfully reducing their rates for early elective deliveries.

“We are proud of our entire team of physicians and staff for being highly engaged in establishing policies to avoid scheduling deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, except when medically necessary,” said Mitch Mongell, Fort Walton Beach Medical Center CEO. “This is a tremendous accomplishment for our community.”

“We are delighted to present this commemorative banner to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center for adhering to standards that directly benefit the health of babies,” said Dr. Karen Harris, Chair of the Program Services Committee for the March of Dimes Florida Chapter. “The last few weeks of pregnancy are extremely important for the baby’s brain and lung development, among other organs, so we want to commend this momentous achievement.”

“Studies have shown that deliveries that are scheduled for convenience or other non-medical reasons may increase harm to infants, increase health care costs, and worsen medical outcomes,” said Dr. Robert Yelverton, Chair of ACOG District XII. “We are extremely pleased with Fort Walton Beach Medical Center’s participation.”

March of Dimes and ACOG District XII (Florida) have also worked with the Florida Hospital Association, the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative and other partners to provide resources and support to hospitals across the state. This joint effort enabled many hospitals to make great progress in reducing their rates of early elective delivery.

Reducing early elective deliveries and improving the health of moms and babies is just one of the key focus areas of the March of Dimes and their “Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait” campaign. In an average week in Florida, 549 babies are born preterm and 29 die before their first birthday, many times as a result of their early births. Early elective deliveries can cause lifelong health challenges for the baby, including breathing difficulty, cerebral palsy, and learning disabilities. Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants.

The March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.