Hospital's prenatal clinic a win for Lowcountry

info@islandpacket.comSeptember 30, 2013 

The Sept. 12 story "Hilton Head Hospital implicated in alleged Medicaid kickback scheme" missed two key points: The clinic program fulfills an important public health need by providing high-quality prenatal care to Hispanic mothers, and the allegations against the hospital come from a former employee from another hospital who does not have first-hand knowledge of Hilton Head Hospital contracts.

Hilton Head Hospital provided prenatal care to more than 1,800 Hispanic residents in recent years, which helped reduce unnecessary emergency deliveries. It's a fact that prenatal care results in fewer delivery complications, healthier moms and babies, and less cost for Medicaid. Women without access to prenatal care are three times more likely to have low birth-weight babies and seven times more likely to give birth prematurely. Every dollar spent on prenatal care for undocumented and uninsured Hispanic women yields up to $3.38 in savings by reducing these complications. Postnatal care can cost $3,000 more for infants whose mothers received no prenatal care.

Hospitals are required to provide labor and delivery care regardless of immigration or insurance status. The Lowcountry is home to the largest concentration of Hispanics in South Carolina. When pregnant women lack adequate health insurance and forego prenatal checkups, it harms families, weakens our community and burdens our social safety net. Hilton Head Hospital should be applauded for having the foresight to address this need, and in turn, welcoming and educating expectant and new immigrant parents.

Eric Esquivel

Hilton Head Island

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