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Pregnancy care is dangerously distant for women in maternity care ‘deserts’ | Health care/Hospitals

Each week, Ashley Landreneau, a mom of two with another little one on the way, jumps in her car and heads to her doctor’s office in Lafayette.

The 33-year-old salon owner gets a regular weekly ultrasound because a history of seven previous miscarriages means her pregnancy is considered high risk.

And while everything has gone smoothly 19 weeks into her the current pregnancy, what makes it more dangerous is how far she has to trek. From her home in Bayou Chicot, the trip to her doctor’s office is an hour away.

“With my experience and everything I’ve been through, I can’t see just anyone,” said Landreneau. “The closest hospital to me is 45 minutes away. There’s not a specialist there that can deliver. There’s no NICU.”

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Louisiana has among the highest rate of death for pregnant women in the U.S. One of the reasons, according to new research, is the lack of maternal care in many areas of the state, which forces women to travel long distances for routine checkups, emergency visits and deliveries.

Twenty-two parishes in the state are without a hospital offering obstetric care, a birth center or any OB/GYNs or certified nurse-midwives, according to an analysis of 2018 federal workforce data released last month by the March of Dimes, a national nonprofit focused on improving health care for mothers and their babies.

In Evangeline Parish, where Landreneau lives, there is just a single OB/GYN in a population of over 33,000 people. That puts the parish among the 35 out of Louisiana’s 64 parishes that have little to no access to maternal care, according to the report.

Due to that scarcity, researchers estimate that one in four pregnant women in Louisiana may need to travel outside of their parish for the many appointments necessary to monitor a pregnancy: ultrasounds, blood tests, glucose screenings, specialist appointments and delivery.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, the nonprofit’s chief medical officer, said that the inconveniences of distance can make it hard for expectant mothers to get the care needed to keep them healthy.

“Transportation becomes an issue,” said Dr. Gupta. “Time becomes an issue, it becomes a money issue. You have to take a day off, go and wait in a practitioner’s office. A lot of times pregnant people have other kids they need to take care of. They have to then find child care. These things accumulate in maternity care deserts.”

According to a study published in the journal Women’s Health Issues last week, a lack of nearby providers is impacting the state’s maternal mortality rate, which was the worst in the country in 2019.



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Philips growth spurred by COVID-19 demand and distant care

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Health technology company Philips PHG.AS saw sales and profits jump in the third quarter, as the COVID-19 pandemic spurred demand for hospital equipment needed to help patients battling the disease.

Amsterdam-based Philips on Monday said comparable sales rose 10% to 4.98 billion euros ($5.8 billion) in the July-September period, while core profits improved by almost a third to 769 million euros.

Profits and sales easily beat analysts’ expectations, taking Philips shares up 2.9% at 0800 GMT in Amsterdam.

Growth was mainly driven by a 42% increase in sales at the connected care division, which makes monitoring and respiratory care devices used to treat COVID-19 patients and other appliances which allow carers to work remotely.

Like competitors such as Germany’s Siemens Healthineers SHLG.DE, Philips’ results were hit hard in the first half of 2020, as the pandemic caused hospitals to delay the installation of new equipment and crippled demand for consumer products.

But after the first shock of the coronavirus outbreak, Philips began to see a structural change at hospitals, Chief Executive Frans van Houten said, as they increased demand for devices that allow for remote patient monitoring.

These range from appliances for teleconsults to platforms for radiologists to diagnose patients while working from home and for monitoring patients on intensive care units without having to be by their side.

“There is a structural higher demand for the healthcare informatics that Philips has already invested in for several years and now we see the validation of that strategy”, the CEO said.

NEW TARGETS

This structural shift will be one of the main drivers for future growth, Van Houten said, as Philips updated its targets for the years to come.

Philips said it expected average sales growth of 5% to 6% per year between 2021 and 2025, with the adjusted EBITA margin improving by 60 to 80 basis points each year.

The company’s profit margin jumped to 15.4% in the third quarter, up from 12.4% a year earlier, and is now expected to reach the “high teens” by 2025, it said.

For 2021, however, Philips predicted “low-single-digit growth”, as demand for COVID-19 equipment is expected to cool down.

Philips cut its outlook for 2020 in August, after the U.S. Department of Health cancelled most of an order for 43,000 ventilators.

The company on Monday maintained its outlook for moderate sales growth and a stable EBITA margin for the whole of this year.

Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Richard Pullin/Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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