BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation Funds $2.48 million Vanderbilt Research Project to Prevent Premature Births

What: Announcement of major research grant to find ways to prevent prematurity.

When: Monday, Sept. 18 at 2 p.m.

Where: The second floor Board Room at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Details: A $2.48 million, four-year grant is the largest ever made by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee (BCBST) Health Foundation, making a significant collaborative project possible that may save babies’ lives and save millions of dollars in health care money for Tennesseans. The grant funds Tennessee Connections for Better Birth Outcomes, a research project led by Patricia Temple, M.D., professor of Pediatrics and medical director for Nurses for Newborns, and Melanie Lutenbacher, Ph.D., associate professor of Nursing and Pediatrics and director of the Ph.D. in Nursing Science Program.

Temple and Lutenbacher have designed this research project with support from the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt’s Division of Neonatology, the




Center’s Division of Obstetrics/Gynecology and the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. The goal will be to determine if premature births can be prevented in a population of women at high risk for early delivery with the delivery of prenatal care in the home and in the clinic setting, progesterone therapy, and in-home visits by a postpartum nurse.

Further goals include reducing health care costs, infant mortality and health disparities associated with pre-term births. The prenatal and postpartum visits by Nurses for Newborns, while part of the overall study, might be seen as an added benefit to the communities where the study will take place.

“Prenatal obstetrical nurse home visits can mean fewer preterm infants, fewer prenatal hospitalizations and fewer infant re-hospitalizations,” said

Temple. “According to a study from the

University of

Pennsylvania, this can add up to a savings of more than 750 hospital days and a total savings of $2.4 million for 85 mothers and their infants. In our study we intend to see 300 mothers, so we hope this will be a boon to all Tennesseans.”

“The high incidence of premature births in our state presents both an emotional and financial burden on our community and our health systems,” said Calvin Anderson, vice president of federal and community relations, BlueCross BlueShield of

Tennessee. ”

Tennessee is ranked 48th in the nation in infant mortality, and it will take the efforts of many to change this figure for the better. We trust this grant will make a huge difference, and we are delighted to be announcing it during a similarly important effort: this week’s Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance conference ‘Why Our Babies Die?’ held at the Vanderbilt Marriott Sept. 18 – 20.”

“Our long-term goal is to create a model of care that can be replicated,” said Lutenbacher. “We based our model upon multiple interventions that show promise in preventing prematurity, decreasing health disparities and improving maternal and child health outcomes. This is very much a translational research project where we are testing how well scientific findings work in the real world.”

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc. (THF), was established in December 2003 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of

Tennessee. THF awards grants focused on high-impact initiatives across the state, which promote healthy lifestyle choices and help control health care costs for all

Tennessee residents. Working with civic and economic partners, THF is dedicated to the support of research, innovative programs and creative approaches to improve the health and quality of life of Tennesseans for generations to come.