Press Releases

Methodist Women’s Hospital, Methodist Fremont Health Recognized for Higher Quality in Maternity Care

Published: April 26, 2021

Methodist Women’s Hospital and Methodist Fremont Health are each proud to be recognized by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska with the Blue Distinction® Centers (BDC) for Maternity Care designation, which is part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

The designation highlights a hospital’s commitment to ensuring the best health for all mothers of all races and ethnicities.

“I know I speak for all of our providers and other members of our clinical teams when I say how proud we are to have earned this designation,” said Patty Bauer, vice president of Methodist Women’s Hospital. “Our clinical leaders have worked incredibly hard to ensure that best practices are in place and that we are continually striving for the optimal outcomes for all those who trust us with their care.”

Racial and ethnic disparities are persistent and widespread across maternal health care, primarily driven by socioeconomic status, geographic location and implicit provider bias. Compared to similarly developed countries, such as Canada, Germany and Australia, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate (MMR), at approximately 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births, with the MMR steadily increasing since 2000. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), non-Hispanic Black women are two to three times more likely to die from preventable or treatable pregnancy-related complications than white women.

To help address these gaps in care and promote the health of mothers, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association enhanced its quality evaluation for the maternity care program to address key factors driving the United States’ maternal health crisis, such as preventable or treatable pregnancy-related conditions, high utilization of cesarean sections and racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health care.

In 2018, facilities that received designations under the Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program cared for more than 40% of Blue Cross and Blue Shield commercially insured women giving birth across the country.

With their focus on providing the best care to patients, both hospitals met the rigorous BDC quality selection criteria for maternity care set by the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

“Methodist Fremont Health is proud to be recognized by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska for meeting the rigorous Blue Distinction Center quality selection criteria for maternity care set by the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program,” said Melinda Kentfield, vice president and chief nursing executive at Methodist Fremont Health. “Our labor and delivery staff members are continually working on initiatives to enhance the safety for moms and babies.”

The hospital recently implemented protocols to address postpartum hemorrhage, the leading cause of maternal deaths. It also earned “Safe Sleep Champion” designation from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services as part of its initiative to reduce infant deaths, and many of its nurses have become certified lactation counselors in order to help mom and baby be more successful with breastfeeding.

In 2020, the Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program expanded beyond traditional outcome measures to include assessments of internal quality improvement, data collection and dissemination, and internal protocols that better address clinical quality and equity issues in maternity care.

New in this evaluation cycle, facilities must collect race ethnicity data, have a maternal quality improvement program, commence drills and simulations for adverse events, and have dedicated protocols and procedures for the management of hypertension and hemorrhage. In addition, they must meet clinical outcome metrics at a higher standard than required previously. Specifically, the rate for low-risk, first-time cesarean sections (NTSV C-section rate, PC-02) has been aligned with the revised Healthy People 2020 goals. Facilities eligible for the Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care show statistically significant differences in key clinical outcomes compared to their peers.

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska is proud to announce that Methodist Women’s Hospital and Methodist Fremont Health have been designated Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care,” said Deb Esser, MD, chief medical officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. “This recognition affirms the high quality and cost-efficient care provided at these facilities. We’re pleased to have them as part of our network for our members’ maternity care needs."

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality specialty care in the areas of bariatric surgery, cancer care, cardiac care, cellular immunotherapy, fertility care, gene therapy, knee and hip replacement, maternity care, spine surgery, substance use treatment and recovery, and transplants while encouraging health care professionals to improve the care they deliver. Research shows that compared with other providers, those designated as Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients.

For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, please visit

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska is a community-based, member-owned health insurance company serving Nebraskans for more than 75 years. BCBSNE is committed to providing stability and security to Nebraska families and is leading the way in supporting patient-focused care. We’re the state’s largest health insurance company and the only one headquartered in Nebraska. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 35 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health Index. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit  

About Blue Distinction Centers

Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for providers located in its own service area; for details, contact your Local Blue Plan. Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable health care. Each provider’s cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan. Providers in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans’ areas, resulting in two evaluations for cost of care; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both cost of care evaluation(s) must meet BDC+ national criteria. National criteria for BDC and BDC+ are displayed on Individual outcomes may vary. For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan and ask your provider before making an appointment. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for non-covered charges or other losses or damages resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.