Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast Recognized for Low Cesarean Section Rates for First Time

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October 16, 2018
The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and the Florida Department of Health (DOH) announced Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast as one of 20 Florida hospitals in 2017 that achieved the Healthy People 2020 (HP2020) Maternal and Child Health goal focused on reducing cesarean section deliveries for first-time mothers with low-risk pregnancies. AHCA and DOH announced the recognition awards to hospitals at the Florida Hospital Association’s annual meeting on October 4, 2018 during the Celebration of Achievement in Quality and Service Awards Ceremony.
The mission of this recognition program is to highlight the importance of this health care quality issue statewide and to recognize those hospitals that are contributing to providing quality health care for mothers and infants. Both AHCA and DOH have recognized that the high rate of low-risk cesarean births is a major maternal and child health issue in Florida, having one of the highest rates in the nation at 37.2 percent.
One of the HP2020 National Goals is to reduce primary C-section rates to 23.9 percent. Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast is being recognized by AHCA and the FL DOH for being one of twenty hospitals in the state of Florida to achieve this goal with primary C-section rates averaging 22.99 percent for the past 3 years.
“I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of Sacred Heart Hospital, our supportive administration, dedicated Family Birth Place Team and OB Physicians: Chief OB Dr. Anne-Marie Whitlock, Dr. Melinda Graham, Dr. Jennifer Esses, Dr. Kimberly Hood, Dr. Brett Tidwell, Dr. Yolanda Jones, Dr. Robert Sledge, and Dr. Morris Silvers,” said Christa Allen, Women’s Services and Family Birth Place Manager.
The physicians and staff of Sacred Heart’s Family Birth Place have been leaders in this initiative and historically maintained a low cesarean section rate for first time mothers by eliminating early elective deliveries without medical indication and allowing mothers the time they need to have successful vaginal deliveries while safely monitoring their babies. 
While life-saving in certain cases, cesarean sections (C-sections) can pose serious health risks to mothers and babies. Once a woman has a cesarean, she has a greater chance of having a C-section for subsequent births, increasing her risk of major birth complications. For the baby, some of the consequences can include a longer hospital stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, as well as higher rates of respiratory infection.
About Sacred Heart Health System
In Florida, Ascension operates Sacred Heart based in Pensacola and St. Vincent’s HealthCare based in Jacksonville. Together, Ascension operates seven hospitals and more than 100 other sites of care, and they employ more than 10,000 associates. Across the region, Sacred Heart and St. Vincent’s have served North Florida communities for more than 145 years. In fiscal year 2017, they provided $168 million in community benefit and care of persons living in poverty. Ascension ( is a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. As the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, Ascension is committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Ascension includes approximately 156,000 associates and 34,000 aligned providers. Ascension’s Healthcare Division operates more than 2,600 sites of care – including 151 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities – in 21 states and the District of Columbia. For more information on Sacred Heart Health System, visit