Wednesday, October 13
Riverside University Health System Launches HeRCARe Services for High-Risk Pregnancy Care Throughout Riverside County
The program is the first of its kind in the region, providing comprehensive women’s health services and resources, focusing on high-risk pregnancies and state-of-the-art maternal-fetal care.
MORENO VALLEY, CALIF., August 11th , 2021 — Riverside University Health System (RUHS) received a $6.38 million grant from First 5 Riverside to create the HeRCARe initiative, making it the region’s first comprehensive high-risk perinatal care program. This award will expand Riverside University Health System Medical Center’s (RUHS-MC) portfolio in Women’s Health offerings.
The new HeRCARe initiative, which stands for “High Risk Care Access and Resources” will be a program offered by the RUHS-MC-Women’s Health Center. HeRCARe is aimed at creating regional partnerships, increasing specialty provider capacity, expanding research and offering access to early intervention in high-risk pregnancies to improve overall childhood health outcomes in the community. The program will increase specialty provider capacity, having secured a new maternal-fetal medicine physician, Dr. Sarah Smithson, who will be joining the HeRCARe team in September. Dr. Smithson, will help care for approximately 20% of expectant mothers in the county experiencing high-risk pregnancies. Currently, Bryan Oshiro, MD, chief of the division of MaternalFetal Medicine and vice chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Riverside University Health System, is the only full-time hospital-based maternal-fetal medicine provider for the region. The grant will also provide more telehealth capacity and vital OB/GYN technology, such as fetal ultrasounds and video visits to allow for more timely care and increased access for patients.
In addition, RUHS-MC will use the monies to continue to solidify partnerships with other perinatal care organizations in the county that will help the mother throughout her pregnancy. These partner organizations may include Black Infant Health, Nurse Family Partnership, WIC and many others, as well. Grant funds will also be used to establish a research endowment that will focus on advances aimed at improving outcomes related to high-risk pregnancy and for children born to these mothers from newborn to five years of age.
Ronald Johnson, MD, chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at RUHS, is excited to be able to offer this care and support to one of the largest counties in California to help improve the lives of both mothers and babies in Riverside County. “Making full access to the very best care available for every single mother and baby that is at-risk for complications during pregnancy, is a basic right that families should be able to experience,” Johnson says. “We have been working diligently to establish this program in order to eliminate any barriers to receiving high-quality perinatal health care, as well as to establish health equity for those with high-risk pregnancies in Riverside County.” Riverside County is one of the top counties in the state of California with a population that has the highest rate of gestational diabetes — a prime contributor to high-risk pregnancies. Bryan Oshiro, MD, RUHS Maternal-Fetal Medicine physician, is overjoyed by the grant award and is grateful to have an organization support his passion to serve mothers and babies.
“We’re overwhelmed by the generous contribution from First 5 Riverside,” Oshiro says. “Their support will further promote and enhance the health and early development of moms and children in the community we love.”
In Riverside County, women and their unborn babies are severely underserved when it comes to high-risk pregnancy care. Pregnancy is a critical time in determining future health outcomes for a lifetime, according to Oshiro. Predisposition to heart disease, diabetes and other lifelong chronic illnesses can be traced to health factors and other social determinants while babies are in-utero.
A lack of maternal-fetal medicine providers in the region makes it difficult for many expectant mothers to access high-risk obstetrical services. Coupled with the lack of an integrated perinatal network connecting physicians that serve high-risk populations to these specialized services can tremendously help to improve health outcomes and allows RUHS-MC to better serve this vulnerable population throughout our region.
HeRCARe Program Director Sabreen White says “The goal of this program is to increase the availability and access to specialized pregnancy care in Riverside County by bringing the services to locations closer to the patients geographically. The service provided within the RUHS-MC Community Health Centers makes receiving care extremely convenient for the patient with no wait time to be seen by a provider.”
To learn more about this program and the services provided, please contact 951-600-MOMS (6667) visit www.ruhealth.org/hercare.
Photo Caption: An RUHS ultrasound staff member works while Dr. Bryan Oshiro observes virtually.
About Riverside University Health System
Riverside University Health System (RUHS) includes a 439-bed Medical Center, 13 Community Health Centers, and several primary and specialty clinics throughout Riverside County, California. With more than 6,000 staff members and over 125 years of experience serving Riverside County communities, RUHS continues its commitment to and legacy of delivering exceptional, compassionate care with a focus on public health, behavioral health, community wellness, and medical education.