Blue Cross VT Recognizes Rutland Regional Medical Center for High-Quality, Lower-Cost Maternity Care

Better Beginnings program assists with maternal health needs

Rutland Regional Medical Center has been designated as a Blue Distinction® Centers for Maternity Care.

Berlin, Vermont – Rutland Regional Medical Center has been designated as a Blue Distinction® Centers for Maternity Care by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont (Blue Cross VT) as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program. 

The Blue Distinction Centers play a key role in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s (BCBSA) National Health Equity Strategy aimed at reducing racial health disparities across the care spectrum and improving maternal health outcomes.

Based on data from the current designation cycle, facilities designated under the Maternity Care program demonstrate higher-quality care compared to non-Blue Distinction Center facilities, with overall average rates of 26% lower episiotomies, 60% fewer elective deliveries and 17% lower cesarean births—all of which point to healthier outcomes for birthing patients and their babies.

“As a system, we are making a commitment to strive toward excellence in maternity care and improving maternal health outcomes in Vermont,” said Dr. Tom Weigel, Chief Medical Officer of Blue Cross VT. “The statistics for complications in maternal health in the United States are shocking, particularly for people of color. We can and we must do better.”    

Rutland Regional Medical Center is currently the sole Blue Distinction® Center for Maternity Care Program in the state of Vermont. 

“Rutland Regional Medical Center women’s and children’s health care services are managed by a dedicated and experienced group of providers and support staff who share a singular focus on the health and wellbeing of both the parent and newborn,” said Leah Romine, Nurse Director of the Women’s and Children’s Unit and Birthing Center at Rutland Regional. “This distinction is the result of our quest to continually find ways to improve what we do here every day and I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”

Commitment to Maternity Care

Severe maternal morbidity rates are on the rise among all pregnant women in the United States, which has the highest maternal mortality rate than any developed country. Moreover, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. These disparities are unacceptable and demand immediate attention.

Blue Cross VT is committed to reducing racial disparities in maternal health. BCBSA has executed a multi-year National Health Equity Strategy to achieve this goal. To align with this strategy, the Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program enhanced its quality and measurement standards to recognize higher-quality facilities that have taken action to respond effectively to obstetric emergencies, reduce racial disparities, and improve maternal health outcomes. 

The Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program’s selection criteria was devised to close clinical care gaps and reduce inequities that persist throughout the maternal care spectrum. The selection criteria includes components of BCBSA’s Maternal Health Equity Actions, which dismantle the cultural, operational and structural barriers that created inequities in maternal care.

To be designated under this program, each applicant facility was evaluated on a combination of objective data on patient outcomes as well as the practices implemented to reduce racial disparities and improve maternal health outcomes, such as:

  • Using evidence-based best practices to respond effectively to obstetric emergencies
  • Offering unconscious bias training
  • Participating in the regional Perinatal Quality Collaborative
  • Having doula support available on the maternity care team
  • Collecting race, ethnicity and language data
  • Having a program dedicated to quality improvements in maternal care
  • Running drills and simulations to prepare providers are prepared to deal with a range of obstetric emergencies
  • Demonstrating health outcomes that exceed the selection criteria from our program’s previous evaluation cycle

To further drive improvements to maternal care, BCBSA will be working closely with Blue Cross VT to encourage facilities to implement performance improvement activities that will enhance their maternity care programs and improve patient outcomes. 

“It is time to raise the bar. Everyone deserves to have higher-quality care at every stage of their pregnancy,” said Erin Barney, BCBSA’s vice president of Network Solutions. “Facilities that earned a Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care designation have proven that they deliver higher-quality maternity care and are committed to reducing maternal health disparities that are often treatable and preventable. Closing clinical care gaps is a joint effort, and we are proud to recognize facilities that put insights into action, creating a more equitable system of health for all.”

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality specialty care at lower costs 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. For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated providers, visit the website.

All companies and trademarks listed above are the property of their respective owners and used for identification purposes only and are in no way associated or affiliated with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Use of these trademarks does not imply endorsement. The Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® names and symbols and Blue Distinction® are registered trademarks of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont 
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is a local, not-for-profit health plan. For over 40 years, the company has been enhancing the health and well-being of the Vermonters we serve by offering innovative plans to individuals, older Vermonters, and businesses. Our employees are dedicated to developing new ways to support high-quality care, programs, and events that promote wellness.

About the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 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 IndexSM. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit

About Blue Distinction Centers
Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures, 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 healthcare. 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 noncovered charges or other losses or damages resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.