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Credit: Jett Loe

An Award of Excellence

UNMH's Division of Obstetric Anesthesia recognized with Center of Excellence award

The University of New Mexico Hospital’s Division of Obstetric Anesthesia has been recognized with a Center of Excellence award from the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP) as part of the award’s inaugural class. 

SOAP recognizes institutions and programs that demonstrate excellent obstetric and anesthesia care with a Center of Excellence Award based on a top-to-bottom look at the anesthetic care hospitals are giving to pregnant women. 

UNMH – home to New Mexico’s only Level I trauma center – was the only hospital in the state to be given a center of excellence designation. 

“It is amazing,” said Katherine Seligman, MD, Chief of the Division of Obstetric Anesthesia. “We have put in a lot of effort to make sure that we are staying on top of best practices, implementing things in real time. There’s this old paper that said, ‘You can discover something novel and amazing and life changing in medicine, and it takes 10-20 years to adopt that into standard practice.’ 

“On our end, every year, we want to be evaluating the most cutting-edge research, the most cutting-edge clinical care standards and saying how do we implement this now so that our patients can benefit from it now?”

Among the criteria for the award are:

  • Obstetric anesthesiologist leadership: The obstetric anesthesia lead is a board-certified physician anesthesiologist.
  • Dedicated coverage: In-house 24-hour, seven-days-a-week coverage of obstetric patients by at least one board-certified physician anesthesiologist. 
  • Backup system: Ability to mobilize (within a reasonable 30-60 minute timeframe) additional anesthesia personnel in case of obstetric emergency or high clinical volume beyond the capacity of in-house staff assigned to the obstetric service.

Also included in the award are equipment, protocols and policies (obstetric hemorrhage management, airway management, other emergency resources, multidisciplinary team-based approach and institutional resources), cesarean delivery management, labor analgesia, recommendations and guideline implementation, and quality assurance and patient follow-up. 

“I am really so proud of all the anesthesiologists and residents who work to take care of pregnant and laboring women at this hospital,” Seligman said. “Birth is a joyous event and we want to be there for every woman to provide support, pain relief and care if something does happen where they need more intervention. 

“We are there 24-7 to make sure someone’s birthing process is safe for both them and their baby.”

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