MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia recently announced that WVU Medicine Berkeley Medical Center has been designated as one of the first hospitals to receive the Blue Distinction® Center for Maternity Care designation.

Nearly four million babies are born in the U.S. annually, making childbirth the most common cause of hospitalization. According to Highmark BCBS West Virginia, this Maternity Care designation is a new designation under the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program. It was established to help prospective parents find hospitals that deliver quality maternity care.

“We are delighted to receive this recognition from Highmark BCBS because it acknowledges the quality, evidence-based care delivered by our staff and providers at Berkeley Medical Center,” Samantha Richards, vice president and chief nursing officer at University Healthcare, said.

The Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program evaluates hospitals on several quality measures, including the percentage of newborns that fall into the category of early elective delivery, an ongoing concern in the medical community. Compared with babies born 39 weeks or later, early term infants face higher risks of infant death and respiratory ailments, such as respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia, and respiratory failure, among other conditions.

In addition, hospitals that receive a Blue Distinction Center for Maternity Care designation agreed to meet requirements that align with principles that support evidence-based practices of care, as well as having initiated programs to promote successful breastfeeding. The program also evaluates hospitals on overall patient satisfaction, including a willingness to recommend the hospital to others.
“Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia extends its sincere congratulations to Berkeley Medical Center for their dedication to quality, patient safety, and transparency that is required to achieve this great distinction. With consumer driven healthcare programs like Blue Distinction, and the significant effort of our partner practitioners and facilities, Highmark can now enable our members the opportunity to make wise, value-driven healthcare decisions," Dr. Mark Piasio, Medical Director, Clinical Services, Highmark Inc., said.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies across the nation have recognized more than 280 hospitals as Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care. For more information about the program, visit

For more information: Teresa E. McCabe, University Healthcare Vice President for Marketing and Development, 304-264-1223