March of Dimes, UnitedHealthcare to Help Reduce Preterm Birth Rate in Akron and Toledo Through Group Prenatal Care Program

December 01, 2017

UnitedHealthcare and the March of Dimes announced Supportive Pregnancy Care in Toledo and Akron, a new model of group prenatal care for pregnant women. Pictured above: Susan Gordos, ‎development specialist, ‎March of Dimes, Dr. Linda Post, chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Ohio, Lisa Holloway, maternal and child health director, March of Dimes Ohio, and Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. (Photo: Paul Silla)

  • Supportive Pregnancy Care programs in Toledo and Akron made possible by UnitedHealthcare grant
  • Program enables health care providers to deliver prenatal care in a group setting and empowers women to gain knowledge for a healthy pregnancy through peer-to-peer support 

UnitedHealthcare and the March of Dimes are offering a new model of group prenatal care for pregnant women called Supportive Pregnancy Care (SPC) in Toledo and Akron. The program, funded by a $48,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare, will be available at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department and AxessPointe Community Health Centers, Inc. (Akron).

SPC seeks to improve women’s and babies’ health and wellness and reduce preterm births, a leading cause of infant mortality. SPC offers pregnancy care, education and support in a group setting as opposed to individual appointments, and enables health systems and obstetric care providers to deliver customized care based on local needs and resources. During the sessions, women learn how to take and record their vital signs; receive private physical assessment with their care providers; support each other; and gain knowledge and skills related to pregnancy, birth and infant care.

Babies born prematurely (before 37 weeks’ gestation) face a greater likelihood of lifelong disabilities and chronic health conditions, or death before their first birthday.

According to the March of Dimes 2017 Premature Birth Report Card, Ohio’s preterm birth rate increased this year compared to last year. Statewide, the preterm birth rate among black women is 46-percent higher than the rate among white, Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic women. In Lucas County, where Toledo is located, and Summit County, where Akron is located, the preterm birth rate is 11.2 percent.

“Supportive Pregnancy Care means better health for moms and babies,” said Lisa Holloway, maternal and child health director at March of Dimes Ohio. “Through our partnership with UnitedHealthcare, we can connect more moms to quality prenatal health care, and as a result, we hope to see fewer premature births and a reduction in the infant mortality rate.”

“We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with March of Dimes to bring the Supportive Pregnancy care program to Ohio moms and babies,” said Tracy Davidson, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Ohio. “The counties and care providers selected to pilot the program were chosen because the need is significant, and we believe group prenatal can make a tremendous impact in mothers’ and babies’ health and well-being.”

SPC goals include:

  • reducing preterm births;
  • improving psychological outcomes, including readiness for labor and delivery;
  • increasing the rate of breastfeeding;
  • decreasing the rate of low-birthweight babies;
  • empowering women to take control of their health care;
  • increasing patient and care provider satisfaction; and
  • reducing health care costs.

SPC is unique in offering an online resource portal for care providers and a site for participating women to share information, post photos and videos, and take part in discussion forums.

Several studies funded by the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services found that group prenatal care is associated with fewer preterm births, reduced incidence of low-birthweight infants and a lower likelihood of a stay in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU).

March of Dimes and UnitedHealthcare celebrated the start of SPC in Ohio by hosting baby showers at the AxessPointe Community Health Centers, Inc., in Akron Wednesday, Nov. 29, and the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department Thursday, Nov. 30. During the baby showers, attendees learned about SPC, toured the room where group prenatal classes will take place, and learned about available resources from other community partners.

SPC was first piloted in seven facilities in Tennessee earlier this year in partnership with UnitedHealth Group, the parent company of UnitedHealthcare.

To learn more about group prenatal care, visit March of Dimes and UnitedHealth Group.

About March of Dimes

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For nearly 80 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines and breakthroughs. For the latest resources and health information, visit and If you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our community to find comfort and support. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram and Twitter @marchofdimes #worldprematurityday.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 1 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at or follow @UHC on Twitter.