UTICA, N.Y. – The Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) CenteringPregnancy program received a $150,000 Member and Community Health Improvement (MACHI) grant from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. The Excellus BCBS grant is intended to improve maternal health and health equity in upstate New York.

MVHS offers the area’s only licensed CenteringPregnancy program, which brings 8-10 women all due at the same time together for their care. Centering group prenatal care follows the recommended schedule of 10 prenatal visits, but each visit is 90 minutes to two hours long – giving women much more time with their provider. Moms engage in their care by taking their own weight and blood pressure and recording their own health data, with private time with their provider for belly check.

“Since beginning the MVHS CenteringPregnancy program, we have held 36 groups, providing prenatal care to more than 240 moms,” said Jaime Kierpiec, RN, Maternal Child Services Nurse Education. “It is really gratifying to see the bonds these moms and families make during their time together. In the fall of 2019, before the COVID pandemic put our program on hold for a while, we held a CenteringPregnancy reunion. We invited all women that attended CenteringPregnancy, their partner and infant to the reunion. Women that attended Centering together sat with each other. As I walked around the room, I learned that many of the women remained friends and get their children together.

 “We are so appreciative to Excellus BCBS for this grant which will help us expand CenteringPregnancy to more women in our community who have difficulty accessing prenatal care.”

According to research, CenteringPregnancy has been shown to nearly eliminate racial disparities in preterm birth. All women, but especially African American women, who are at higher risk in the US, experience lower risk of preterm birth when enrolled in CenteringPregnancy than traditional care. This is particularly important in Oneida County since the preterm birth rate is substantially higher than the state’s rate. Additionally, a large percentage of MVHS patients are followed for high-risk pregnancies, which include the risk of preterm delivery. 

“Maternal health and health equity is at the forefront of our community investment strategy,” explains Eve Van de Wal, Excellus BCBS regional president. “By collaborating with community partners like MVHS, we can help close gaps in care and create a positive impact on maternal health in our community. We are proud to provide funding for the CenteringPregnancy program that offers peer support and vital access to care, which helps improve outcomes and promotes safe pregnancies and childbirth for those who often face health disparities.”

For more information about CenteringPregnancy®, visit mvhealthsystem.org/maternity/centering.


Photo Caption:

From left to right: Shayna Keller of Excellus BCBS; Renee Minasov, MS, FNP-C, Jaime Kierpiec, RN, Marianne Stalteri, NP, CNM, Renee Bonafield, RN, BSN, IBCLC, of MVHS; and Eve Van de Wal, regional president of Excellus BCBS.


About MVHS

MVHS is an integrated, non-profit healthcare delivery system that includes St. Elizabeth Medical Center (SEMC), Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare (FSLH), MVHS Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Visiting Nurse Association of Utica and Oneida County and Senior Network Health. MVHS primarily serves the geographic area of Oneida, Herkimer and Madison counties in New York State and is an integrated delivery system with more than 4,200 full-time equivalent employees.


MVHS is in the process of constructing the Wynn Hospital – a 10-story, 672,000-square-foot, 373- bed hospital located on a 25-acre parcel adjacent to the Downtown Utica business district. The campus will also include a central utility plant and the development of a parking garage, physician office building(s), support facilities and a business center. The new hospital creates a structured delivery system to reduce gaps and inefficiencies in care coordination, eliminates duplication of services and improves ease of access with ample parking and centralized entrances. It will be a modern facility with private patient rooms and the flexibility to keep pace with rapidly changing technology and delivery models. The Wynn Hospital will open in October 2023.


For more information, visit mvhealthsystem.org and find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.


Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 1.5 million upstate New York members. The company’s mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care. Its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. With more than 4,000 employees, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It also encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. To learn more, visit ExcellusBCBS.com.