Northside first in US to receive Maternal Levels of Care Verification from The Joint Commission

Hospital takes action to help improve care for mothers and their babies

The Joint Commission, in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), today announced that Northside Hospital, Atlanta, is the first in the country to receive Maternal Levels of Care (MLC) Verification. Northside Hospital also is the first in the state to receive a Level IV Maternal Center Designation from DPH. 

The United States has a higher maternal mortality rate than many other developed countries. Georgia is taking action to help improve care for women and newborns. It is one of a handful of states to review risk-appropriate care and the first to collaborate on a program with an accreditation organization. 

In 2022, DPH announced a partnership with The Joint Commission, recognizing its MLC Verification program. The program, offered in collaboration with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), is a verification process that involves an on-site comprehensive review of a hospital’s maternal capabilities and policies, as well as a level of maternal care determination. 

Through the partnership, hospitals may seek the optional Maternal Center Designation with The Joint Commission’s MLC Verification program. Details on the designation process are available here.

“Early in our history a pivotal decision was made to provide the best care for mothers and newborns in Georgia at Northside Hospital,” says Melissa Sisson, who is retiring as Northside Hospital's longtime director of women's services and led the hospital’s verification process. 

More babies are born at Atlanta’s Northside Hospital each year than at any other single hospital in the United States. This position offers Northside a unique opportunity to develop exceptional expertise in the care of women and newborns with high-risk conditions complicating their pregnancies.

“Our strategy began in earnest with the establishment of a maternal-fetal medicine program, alongside a team of highly qualified obstetricians, certified midwives, nurses and staff,” Sisson adds. “The designation of Northside Hospital Atlanta as the first Level IV Maternal Center in Georgia is an achievement that validates our ability to care for the most critically-ill mothers and newborns in Georgia."

“The Joint Commission congratulates Northside Hospital on this outstanding achievement, as well as the state of Georgia for its efforts to standardize, implement and improve regionalized systems of care,” says Brian Enochs, JD, executive vice president for Business Development and Marketing, The Joint Commission. “Georgia is leading the way in establishing levels of maternal care designations for hospitals, and we expect more states to follow as the nation’s overall maternal mortality rates remain high. Through the Maternal Levels of Care Verification program, we look forward to working closely with hospitals to identify areas where they may need to strengthen risk-appropriate care to match their population – helping to make care safer for mothers and their babies.”

“The Georgia Department of Public Health commends Northside Hospital for its commitment to high levels of care, and for their partnership with DPH to improve the health of mothers and babies in Georgia,” says Kathleen E. Toomey, MD, MPH, commissioner, Georgia Department of Public Health.

Learn more about maternity and newborn services at Northside.

About The Joint Commission
Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve healthcare for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating healthcare organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 22,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in healthcare. Learn more about The Joint Commission at

About the Georgia Department of Public Health 
The Georgia Department of Public Health is the lead agency in preventing disease, injury and disability; promoting health and well-being; and preparing for and responding to disasters through evidence-based decision and policy making, health equity, collaboration and continuous quality improvement. For more information about DPH, visit


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