Maryland Department of Health funding will expand CenteringPregnancy sites in the state 


Hannah Saunders


The average maternal mortality rate in Maryland was  21.2 deaths per 100,000 births from 2018 to 2021. The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) recently announced approximately $278,500 in grant money to expand CenteringPregnancy sites in the state, aiming to improve maternal health there.  

The two-year grant was awarded to the Centering Healthcare Institute, and will expand the number of CenteringPregnancy sites offering comprehensive prenatal care. 

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CenteringPregnancy offers prenatal checkups, group discussions, and peer support. The program works to promote a more collaborative care environment and holistic approach to prenatal care, which supports the state’s efforts to address disparities and improve equity.  

CenteringPregnancy provides clinical intervention through healthcare providers, who use visits as a touchpoint for engaging patients with their care, and connecting them to other patients and support services. Individual appointments are replaced with group appointments, where eight to 10 individuals of similar gestational age receive curriculum of 10, 90-to-120 minute interactive group perinatal care visits. The sessions cover both medical and nonmedical aspects of pregnancy, including common discomforts, stress management, breastfeeding, and infant care.  

Additional funding will also allow for more expert-led group discussions covering nutrition, childbirth preparation, and postpartum care, according to MDH.  

The well-being of a birthing person and their child determines the health of the next generation, and the U.S. faces higher rates of maternal and infant mortality when compared to other industrialized countries, largely due to racial and ethnic disparities. Severe maternal morbidity has been associated with high rates of preventability.  

In 2020, MDH received funding from the Health Services Cost Review Commission to expand CenteringPregnancy sites in the state. There are currently seven sites that have received funding and are in the process of implementation, including: 

  • Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore City 
  • University of Maryland St. Joseph’s Women’s Health Associates in Baltimore County 
  • Kaiser Gaithersburg in Montgomery County 
  • Luminis Health GreenBelt in Prince George’s County 
  • Mary’s Center Silver Springs in Montgomery County 
  • Baltimore Medical System at Yard 56 in Baltimore County 
  • Greater Baden Medical Services in Prince George’s County 

Mercy Medical Center was directly funded by MDH, while the remaining sites were funded by MDH through funds to local health departments to support perinatal care coordination, and a Centering Healthcare Institute (CHI) grant. CHI is contracted to provide support and technical assistance to CenteringPregnancy sites.  

Each site will receive different amounts of funding based on their needs, and MDH funds are used by CHI to offset startup costs that would typically be paid by the grantee. MDH said grant funds are used to cover fees for trainings that are required under Centering365 implementation

Last year, CHI switched to a one-year implementation model, Centering365, and all CenteringPregnancy sites will be funded through June 30, 2025. MDH is continuing to track opportunities to support prenatal care.  

On Jan. 1, 2023, Maryland Medicaid began reimbursing CenteringPregnancy providers enhanced payments for services consistent with the models of care provided at an accredited site, or a site pending accreditation by its organizations, MDH said.  

MDH has prioritized site recruitment in 12 jurisdictions that have increased rates of severe maternal morbidity. These jurisdictions include Baltimore City, Montgomery County, Baltimore County, Prince George’s County, Howard County, Washington County, Carroll County, Charles County, Anne Arundel County, Frederick County, Harford County, and Wicomico County.  

Readers interested in learning more about reproductive rights issues in Maryland can register to attend our 2024 Maryland State of Reform Health Policy Conference, which will be held on June 7 at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront.

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