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

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.

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