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Gov. Holcomb signs birthing center standards law

(Indiana Statehouse Newsroom) - Mothers and babies across Indiana are getting a boost when it comes to care at childbirth. Governor Eric Holcomb signed a bill into law that will guarantee different levels of care at hospitals and birthing centers.

The law is designed to combat Indiana's infant mortality rate.

Gov. Holcomb said, "This bill is a step in the right direction. I know this one bill is  not going to solve it overnight or alone, but it is putting us on the right path."

The state said that in 2016, 623 babies died.

That's out of more than 83,000 Hoosier infants born that year.

Dr. Hossain Marandi, CEO of the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital, said, "Unfortunately, our infant mortality rate is one of the highest in the United States."

Dr. Marandi said the new law makes sure hospitals and birthing centers have the equipment and staff needed to birth babies.

"Looking at the opportunity to have a neonatal intensive care unit. Here at St. Vincent's Hospital Peyton Manning Children's Hospital, we have a level 4 NICU, which is the highest level of care you can provide for kids,” said Dr. Marandi.

That isn't the case everywhere, though. Before Thursday, the Indiana Department of Health said birthing centers had their own levels of care based on national standards because there wasn't uniformity statewide.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Christine Box said,  "There's nothing more terrifying. as an obstetrical provider, than to find yourself caring for a high-risk mom or baby and realizing your facility is not equipped to manage those high risk factors."

Now, those standards are set statewide. 

State Senator Ed Charbonneau from Valparaiso said, "With time being so important, this clearly is going to save lives."

Charbonneau said the bill already went into effect Thursday as soon as it was signed.

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(This story was originally published on March 8, 2018)

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