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ACOG to honor Dr. Sokol with Distinguished Service Award

August 31, 2017

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the specialty's premier professional membership organization dedicated to the improvement of women’s health, has named a longtime Wayne State University School of Medicine faculty member to receive its Distinguished Service Award.

Robert Sokol, M.D., dean emeritus and distinguished professor emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology and of Physiology, will receive the award during ACOG’s next Presidential Inauguration and Convocation, April 29, 2018, during its annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting in Austin, Texas.

The award is given to outstanding individuals in Obstetrics and Gynecology who have made important contributions within ACOG or within the field in government, research, teaching or direct patient care.

“As an academic, I’m really honored to receive such an award from a professional society, which is pretty unusual, I think,” said Dr. Sokol, who also is an adjunct professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics for the Michigan State University College of Medicine. “But my work has always been translational, aimed at improving outcomes for moms and babies.”

Hal Lawrence III, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., executive vice president and chief executive officer of ACOG, wrote Dr. Sokol that the organization’s executive board selected him “in recognition and appreciation of your outstanding contributions to the practice of obstetrics and gynecology and the promotion of women’s health.”

With Lynette Biery, director of Michigan’s Bureau of Family Health Services, Dr. Sokol co-chairs the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health in Michigan, or MI AIM, an effort to reduce maternal mortality and severe morbidity for the state.

According to a 2013 report on pregnancy-associated mortality by the Michigan Maternal Mortality Surveillance, 22 women in Michigan died per 100,000 live births, making it the eighth-highest state in the nation, and the third-highest for non-Hispanic African-American women. Detroit’s maternal mortality rate is three times the national average.

To address the rising numbers, Wayne State University, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Health and Hospital Association joined forces to partner with more than 30 national and local organizations to reduce severe morbidity and maternal mortality. The Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health Program, or AIM, is a national partnership of organizations working to reduce severe maternal morbidity by 100,000 events and maternal mortality by 1,000 deaths by 2018. The national AIM Program provides technical assistance and implementation support to eight states, including Michigan, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan and Oklahoma, with more to come.

The national program has created “Maternal Safety Bundles,” which outline a structured framework and overarching checklist of what every birthing unit should have. All bundles include examples of support for patients, families and staff involved in traumatic events.

The Michigan partnership works to provide information and resources to each birthing center in the state to ensure that every woman has access to best practices and the best chance for a safe and uneventful birth experience. Dr. Sokol organized a MI-AIM Kickoff Meeting in 2015 in Lansing, and was one of five keynote and distinguished speakers.
MI AIM’s objectives include:

Recruiting health care professionals as volunteers to lead and actively participate in the initiative and develop partnerships throughout the state.

Evaluating all 84 Michigan birthing facilities to assess preparedness for maternal emergencies.

Evaluating which elements of the program are successful and which, if any, need further exploration. This will include a review of what vital statistics are processed and validated, how they are transmitted and whether they are effective and timely.

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