Mother’s Day Every Day

Mother with young children

As the region’s only provider of maternity services, Southcoast Health has created a system that ensures new and growing families have the healthiest and happiest start

Having a baby is a life-changing experience, and even before a newborn spends a moment in his or her mother’s arms, excellent medical care and compassionate support are vital for both mom and baby.

“At Southcoast Health, we provide high-quality, evidence-based care for mom and baby, with a community feel,” said G. Uma Harinarayanan, DO, FACOG, (known to her patients as Dr. Hari), of Southcoast Physicians Group Obstetrics & Gynecology.

With almost 3,200 babies born at our hospitals each year, Southcoast offers a mix of family-centered care in a welcoming environment and sophisticated medical services, making it unique among community hospitals. “This is a small community, but you are getting the care and expertise associated with hospitals that have reputations for advanced care,” said Dr. Hari.

That care has led to Southcoast becoming the only health system in Massachusetts to earn the Healthgrades 2015 Women’s Health Excellence Award™ (see related sidebar).

Excellent maternity services, however, go beyond comfortable surroundings and the latest medical technology, said Robert Tripp, DO, FACOOG, an obstetrician in Wareham and Southcoast Trustee. “It’s about listening to and understanding your patients. It’s about having a culture of compassionate care.”

A Family-Centered Approach

Each Southcoast hospital provides comfortable, spacious rooms that allow babies to “room-in” with moms; dads or support persons also can spend the night. And each location has something special to offer.

Tobey Hospital, in Wareham, provides a full midwifery program. It has also earned the distinguished Baby-Friendly designation (see related sidebar); and was the first community hospital in Massachusetts to do so. St. Luke’s, in New Bedford, recently completed a dramatic renovation of its maternity unit (see related sidebar). Both St. Luke’s and Charlton Memorial, in Fall River, have Level II nurseries, which are critical care units for babies born prematurely or with respiratory, cardiac or other complications.

“This is a wonderful time for families, but it can be a stressful time, too,” said Dr. Tripp. “Things can happen very quickly and unexpectedly, and it helps to have support around you.”

The family-centered model recognizes that babies are born to an entire family — not only a mom — and helps families get off to the best possible start by ensuring an easier transition to life outside the womb. Allowing mothers and babies to stay together and welcoming the participation of partners, siblings, grandparents and other loving family members eases stress and encourages bonding with the newborn.

“Family-centered care is directly associated with improved outcomes for mothers and newborns,” added Dr. Hari, specifically in regards to skin-to-skin contact and rooming-in practices — babies cry less and have more stable heart rates, respiration and temperatures. Skin-to-skin contact between baby and mother takes place immediately after birth, as newborns are placed on their mother’s body. During that time, nurses do an assessment of the baby, and if there are any concerns, they immediately call a pediatrician.

Specialized Care for Special Deliveries

If a mom does experience complications or distress during any point in her pregnancy, a wide range of specialists are available to treat her specific needs. For example, a Southcoast endocrinologist can help manage a diabetic patient’s health throughout her pregnancy. Or a Southcoast cardiologist can be quickly brought into the delivery room if a woman experiences an unexpected heart arrhythmia during labor.

Dr. Tripp said that Southcoast has created a seamless program of care for mothers and their newborns. All services, such as outpatient care, radiology and laboratories, are under a single Southcoast umbrella, while Epic, Southcoast’s new electronic medical record system, makes a patient’s health information available to all Southcoast caregivers, as well as to the patient through the MyChart patient portal.

“We are very interested in accommodating a patient’s desire for access to their health information quickly,” he said. “We want patients to take an active part in their care; it provides better outcomes.

Once the baby is born, Southcoast supports breast-feeding for all the benefits it confers on both the mother and infant. Dr. Hari has started the Baby Café, where pregnant women and new moms can drop in for breast-feeding support and consultation with lactation experts. Southcoast also offers other breast-feeding support groups and classes for new moms and families.

“We encourage partners to come, too,” Dr. Hari said of the Baby Cafés. “At Southcoast, we treat the whole family because we feel that will improve the health of the whole community.”

We’re Baby Friendly!

By that, we don’t just mean we love babies — though we do! Hospitals with Baby-Friendly Designation from Baby-Friendly USA, have adopted numerous practices that encourage mother/baby bonding and helps get little ones off to a great start.Tobey Hospital earned Baby-Friendly status in 2011. Charlton Memorial and St. Luke’s hospitals are currently seeking designation.

Women’s Health Excellence

Women's Health Excellence Award 2015Southcoast Health has once again achieved the Women’s Health Excellence Award™ from Healthgrades, the leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals. Southcoast is the only hospital in Bristol County and the entire state of Rhode Island to be recognized, and one of only eight in Massachusetts.

The recognition distinguishes Southcoast as a top-performing hospital in women’s health services, which includes cardiac care, vascular surgery, stroke care, pulmonary care and orthopedic surgery.

For more, see a complete list of the awards Southcoast has received for providing high-quality care.