Indiana governor signs childbirth standards bill into law

Gov. Eric Holcomb, seated in front of papers, signs into law

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Mothers and babies across Indiana just got a boost when it comes to care at childbirth.

Gov. Eric Holcomb on Thursday signed a bill into law that guarantees consistent levels of care at hospitals and birthing centers. It’s designed to combat Indiana’s infant mortality rate. The state recorded 623 deaths of more than 83,000 babies born in 2016.

The governor said this law was something Hoosiers needed. The senator behind the law, Ed Charbonneau, a Republican from Valparaiso, said it will save lives across the state.

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 bill was signed into law at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent. Dr. Hossain Marandi, the hospital’s CEO, said, “Unfortunately, our infant mortality rate is one of the highest in the United States.”

The doctor added that the new law makes sure hospitals and birthing centers have the equipment and staff they need to birth babies.

Marandi said the children’s hospital has a Level 4 neonatal intensive care unit, “the highest level of care you can provide for kids.”

But, that isn’t the case everywhere. Before Thursday, the state Department of Health said birthing centers had their own levels of care based on national standards because there was no uniformity statewide.

Dr. Christine Box, the state health commissioner, 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.”