In  recognition of November being Prematurity Awareness Month, Jennifer Abell, division director of the March of Dimes Maryland National Capitol Area Chapter presented Women’s Health & Family Birthing Center members on Nov. 7, with a $200 grant, two Angel Gowns and a plaque, and thanked them for their dedication to taking care of the most fragile patients and their families. Pictured: (L to R) March of Dimes Community Director Sandra Sanna-Buckles, Mission Mom volunteer Dana Montfort of Mechanicsville, Women’s Health & Family Birthing Center members and March of Dimes Division Director Jennifer Abell.

The local March of Dimes held a Day of Gratitude event on Friday, November 7th at St. Mary’s Hospital’s Birthing Center. It was an opportunity for the March of Dimes staff, parents of preemies and volunteers to express thanks to the doctors, nurses and other health care professionals for all that they do each day as they care for these fragile babies and their families.

Hospital staff was presented with a plaque to commemorate their efforts to support the March of Dimes mission to improve the health of babies. In addition, the March of Dimes and its partner Angel Gowns of Virginia donated two “Angel gowns,” which are bereavement gowns sewn from donated wedding dresses, for families who have suffered the devastating loss of an infant. Photos can be viewed in the March of Dimes photo gallery.

“We wanted to show our gratitude for these talented, compassionate caregivers who dedicate themselves and their time to the delicate mission we are also passionate about,” said Jennifer Abell, March of Dimes Maryland-National Capital Area’s Suburban Maryland Division Director. “It was a meaningful experience to honor the dedicated staff at St. Mary’s Hospital.”

Although the nation’s preterm birth rate has dropped for the sixth consecutive year, more than half a million babies are born prematurely each year in the U.S. In Maryland, over 1,402 babies are born each week, and 171 of these are born preterm (before 37 weeks completed weeks of gestation). These babies face an increased risk of serious medical complications and life-long disabilities. Some may not reach their first birthday. In addition to the physical and emotional effects, a preterm birth can cost 12 times more than an uncomplicated birth and costs the U.S. health care system more than $26 billion each year.

The March of Dimes helps moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. And, if something goes wrong, we offer information and comfort to families. We research the problems that threaten babies and work on preventing them. Since the organization was established in 1938, March of Dimes work has led to discoveries that shape today’s standards of a healthy pregnancy.

November is Prematurity Awareness Month®, and a key time when the March of Dimes focuses everyone’s attention on the serious problem of premature birth. An estimated 15 million babies are born premature and of those more than a million die as a result of their early birth.

Also, on November 17, partners from around the world will mark the fourth World Prematurity Day in support of the Every Woman Every Child effort led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. People can help raise awareness by going to and joining the virtual campaign to share stories, give hope and save lives. 

About MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital

MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital is a full-service community hospital, delivering state-of-the-art emergency, acute inpatient and outpatient care in Leonardtown, Md. Nestled in a waterside community, MedStar St. Mary’s provides advanced technology with a dedication to excellence in all services provided. The not-for-profit hospital has been named among the nation’s Top 100 Hospitals™ and is an eight time recipient of the prestigious Delmarva Medicare Excellence Award. Our staff is committed to providing quality and compassionate medical care for all patients by coupling innovation with our outstanding team of Medical Staff members, associates and volunteers. Visit to learn more.

About MedStar Health

MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit

About the March of Dimes

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies. For the latest resources and information, visit or Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.