Obstetrics Anesthesiology receives SOAP Center of Excellence designation

By Roman Petrowski, Office of Communications

SOAP Center of Excellence

The Division of Obstetric Anesthesiology, led by (from left to right) Sean Blackwell, MD; Paige del Castillo, MSN, RNC-OB, NE-BC; Maya Suresh, MD; and Barbara Orlando, MD, PhD; is accredited and award the prestigious SOAP Center of Excellence designation by the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology. (Photo by Dwight Andrews/Office of Communications)

The Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP) recently announced the Division of Obstetric Anesthesiology at McGovern Medical School is accredited and awarded the prestigious SOAP Center of Excellence (COE) designation.

The SOAP Center of Excellence designation recognizes institutions and programs that demonstrate excellence in obstetric anesthesia care, sets a benchmark level of expected care to improve the standards nationally, and provides a broad surrogate quality metric of institutions providing obstetric anesthesia care. The designation is a result of collaboration across departments at the Medical School, including the Department of Anesthesiology; the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences; and The Women’s Center at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

Maya Suresh, MD, joined McGovern Medical School in 2019, and began a two-year process to have all the required elements to submit the application for SOAP Center of Excellence in September of 2021. Since its inception in 2018, only 72 institutions in the United States and eight internationally have received the designation of SOAP Center of Excellence.

“This designation means a lot because it heightens our profile within the department and within the institution,” said Suresh, professor in the Department of Anesthesiology. “We could not have done this without the help of Holger Eltzschig, MD, PhD; Charlie Artime, MD; Sean Blackwell, MD; Barbara Orlando, MD, PhD; and Paige del Castillo, MSN, RNC-OB, NE-BC. Partnering with them was extremely beneficial and added to the success of this application. There were many elements that we needed, and everyone was instrumental in helping put it together.”

The criteria for the COE designation cover various domains including personnel and staffing; equipment, protocols and policies; simulation and team training; obstetric emergency management; cesarean delivery and labor analgesia care; recommendations and guidelines implementation; and quality assurance and patient follow-up systems. The criteria was generated by expert consensus and evidence-based recommendations.

“Within these six domains there are many elements that we have to do, and we cannot do it without the partnership of obstetricians and nurses,” Suresh said. “For example, managing cesarean delivery antibiotics, implementation of enhanced recovery after cesarean and for labor analgesia, and the implementation of programmed epidural bolus were all key elements for COE, and nursing collaboration was important. The collaboration with the OB/GYN department and Dr. Sean Blackwell; the initiation of the High-Risk Obstetric Anesthesia Clinic, and participation in the Multidisciplinary and Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement meetings were vitally important to the success of the COE designation.”

Blackwell, chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, noted that the division specializes in caring for pregnant women with major, life-threatening conditions due to trauma, cardiac disease, morbidly adherent placenta, COVID-19, and cancer.

“To take care of women with conditions this complex, the expertise needs to go well beyond just the obstetrical and neonatal issues,” he said. “We are fortunate to have a setup where our obstetrical service is implanted next to an adult critical care hospital where we have great access to ICUs and the necessary specialists we need.”

Orlando, associate professor of anesthesiology added, “It’s a team effort. The application is very thick, and it includes many components to each domain. There are many protocols to implement for components such as pain control, and if we don’t have partnership with the OB/GYN and nursing leadership, we can’t do it.”

Although the Division of Obstetric Anesthesiology has received the designation of SOAP Center of Excellence, those involved will look toward the future and continue to fine-tune what they have put in place. Continuing to develop relationships and partnerships with obstetricians and nurses as well as building on the established ACGME-accredited fellowship will be a main focus, along with providing excellent patient care.

“We have a unique service line already and receiving the SOAP Center of Excellence designation makes it even more phenomenal,” said del Castillo, clinical director of Women’s Services at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. “I’ve watched the OB Anesthesia service grow tremendously since Dr. Suresh joined us. We aim to provide the best care to our moms and babies, and we are very excited about this accomplishment.”