|YTHC Improving Care for Moms & Newborns|
Jul 26, 2012
In the May the CUJ reported that Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center received funding from the State of Oregon to strengthen the health care for a vulnerable portion of our community: pregnant women and their unborn children. Yellowhawk staff has received several questions about the “prenatal care system” that is being developed, so we asked two of our key team members to respond to a few frequently asked questions. Karen Cook, FNP, Community Wellness Director, and Carmen Ehlers, MD, Yellowhawk Clinical Director, provide some insight to our new and improved prenatal care system. We hope their answers helps you better understand and access the prenatal care system so that you get the care you need during and after pregnancy.
Q: Why did Yellowhawk want to make changes to the prenatal care system?
In the past few years, if you became pregnant our practice was to write a referral to an outside provider and women received most if not all their prenatal and well child care outside of Yellowhawk. With the old system, Yellowhawk was no longer “in the loop” of health care. Studies show that the best outcomes for both mother and baby are achieved with early entry into prenatal care during the first trimester. In the new system we are able to schedule women into prenatal care within a few weeks of a positive pregnancy test, coordinate services with other departments (mental health, dental, WIC), and arrange for home visits with our Public Health Nurse, Rita Campbell, RN.
Q: What will the new and improved prenatal care system look like?
Once it is determined that you’re pregnant you will be asked to establish care at Yellowhawk with a qualified Family Nurse Practitioner (Karen Cook) who has over 13 years of Maternal & Child Health care experience. Most of the prenatal care will be provided through your visits with Ms. Cook, however, once a month an Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB-GYN) physician will be at Yellowhawk to consult with any prenatal patients that have “other-than-routine” health care needs. At week 36 Yellowhawk will refer you to the OB-GYN of your choice in preparation for delivery of your baby. But up until that 36th week, we will have worked with you to ensure that your prenatal health care is the best it can be. Once you’ve delivered you can come back for postnatal and well child care. A consulting Pediatrician will be at Yellowhawk at least once a month to establish well child care.
Q: Why did you choose a Walla Walla-based OB-GYN, and will that affect the continuity of my care?
We spoke with several OB-GYNs both in Pendleton and Walla Walla. Our new partners at Walla Walla General Hospital agreed to provide services here at Yellowhawk. Having prenatal care provided at Yellowhawk makes it more accessible, and helps us ensure that all the services/care you need are available and provided in a timely manner. The new system will improve the quality, adequacy, and continuity of prenatal care in our community.
Q: Will I have a choice in where I deliver my baby when the time comes?
Yes, remember that it is always your choice. Although the visiting OB-GYN comes from Walla Walla, we will be working with each soon-to-be-mom on where they would like to deliver. Keep in mind that no matter who your OB-GYN doctor is it is possible that he/she could not be available at the time of delivery and another OB-GYN doctor could be delivering your baby, depending on who is on call at the exact time. But you can choose in advance who will be with you at the delivery room by discussing all these issues with your provider during prenatal care visits.
It is a blessing for us to be able to work with pregnant women in our community to help them during this critical time of their lives. We have the same goal as you: a healthy baby and healthy mom. Thanks for giving us the chance to help you achieve that goal.
For more information about the Yellowhawk’s Prenatal Care system go to www.yellowhawk.org or call 541-278-7564.