University Hospital is first in San Antonio to earn highest state designation for maternal-infant care

June 07, 2019

Hospital now has Level IV designation for both NICU and Maternal Care

University Hospital is San Antonio’s first Level IV maternal center following designation this week by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Only those centers that provide comprehensive patient care to the highest-risk obstetric patients earn this designation. It dovetails with the hospital’s Level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) designation awarded in 2017, certifying the highest level of continuous care available for pregnant women, mothers and their newborn babies.

While University Hospital has offered that level of care for some time, state law now requires hospitals to pass a rigorous site visit by third-party experts to verify those capabilities.

The site inspection was conducted by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the specialty's premier professional membership organization dedicated to the improvement of women’s health.

ACOG praised the program’s clinical collaborations with other departments that allow staff to calmly and deliberately manage patients who are losing a significant amount of blood. They also noted the program’s comprehensive maternal transport and outreach to the southern region of Texas. “This facility has a well-developed transport team which is comprehensive and provides extensive outreach to the Southern region of Texas,” inspectors said in their report. “Their ability to provide comprehensive, complex patient care to this high-risk patient population exemplifies the intent of level IV facilities across the state of Texas.”

University Hospital averages 3,200 deliveries per year. Many of those involve high-risk pregnancies and include women transported from other facilities throughout San Antonio and 22 South Texas counties. The maternal care team has seven maternal-fetal specialists, 14 OB-GYN Specialists, four certified nurse midwives, three family nurse practitioners, seven family medicine physicians, 11 obstetric anesthesia providers, and 110 highly skilled registered nurses.

University Hospital, an academic medical center in partnership with UT Health San Antonio, has developed a robust simulation program to enhance team collaboration among emergency, trauma surgery, intensive care and other services to be better prepared for obstetric emergencies. These simulations help physicians and nurses improve clinical skills. In addition to these local efforts, the team takes these simulations and continuing education to facilities around the region to provide training and improve patient care beyond the hospital.

The Maternal-Fetal Medicine Program physicians and staff work closely with high-risk patients during their pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum recovery period. Critical care, surgical, and obstetric anesthesia teams are on site at all times to work with the obstetric care team, providing immediate access to the most comprehensive level of care in the region.

University Health System is currently planning and designing a Women’s and Children’s Tower at University Hospital. Scheduled to open in 2022, the new tower will provide comprehensive and extended hospital care for women, children and premature or ill infants in a family-centered environment.