March of Dimes Grant to Help Fund New Program for Pregnant Women

March 10, 2011

CenteringPregnancy Program at Downtown Health Plaza Aims to Improve Prenatal Health

A grant from the March of Dimes North Carolina Chapter will help Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center add a program to address unmet maternal and child health needs in Forsyth County.

The grant will help fund the CenteringPregnancy Program, an innovative approach to prenatal care that is scheduled to begin this spring at the Downtown Health Plaza, which is part of Wake Forest Baptist.

CenteringPregnancy holds promise for improving patient and provider satisfaction, and significantly reducing the preterm birth rate, according to Karen Gerancher, M.D., residency program director and section head of General Gynecology at Wake Forest Baptist who supported the addition of the program.

“We are very excited about this fantastic opportunity to make a difference in the lives of pregnant women and their growing families,” said Mary Fitzmaurice, certified nurse midwife at Wake Forest Baptist who will serve as program coordinator and one of three group session leaders. “For women in the program, they will sit with their peers, a nurse and their medical provider in a circle and discuss different aspects of prenatal care in a fun, educational and supportive setting.

“Imagine walking in the door every time you come to see your provider and not having to wait. Instead, you go right to a room to check yourself in, weigh yourself and meet with your provider. You are with about 10 to 11 other women who are due around the same time you are. While the provider gives each of you individual assessments, you have time to socialize and participate in learning activities. You share a snack, or discuss how your baby just started kicking or other aspects of your pregnancy experience.”

The March of Dimes makes such grants to help fulfill its mission of preventing birth defects and infant mortality.

“This grant addresses significant maternal and child health issues such as the high rates of preterm birth that are of concern in our community,” said Marcia Swartz, March of Dimes program services chair.

“Here in Forsyth County we found that we could help mothers and babies through the Obstetrics and Gynecology clinic at the Downtown Health Plaza. We are grateful that our successful fundraising efforts, such as March for Babies, make it possible for us to support new efforts to help more babies to be born healthy in Forsyth County.”

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit or its Spanish-language site at

For more information about CenteringPregnancy, visit

Media Relations

Paula Faria:, 336-716-1279