Family Centred Care is focus of Lakeridge Health Maternal/Newborn Programs

Lakeridge Health is giving birth to a new generation of citizens. That’s because Durham Region is one of the fastest growing areas in Ontario and the exploding birthrate is just one factor.

At Lakeridge Health, the Maternal/Newborn Program is evolving as our community grows – more than 3,200 babies are “expected” this year. Lakeridge Health is active in The Child Health Network, a partnership of community and hospital providers across the Greater Toronto Area. Lakeridge Health Bowmanville, Lakeridge Health Oshawa and Lakeridge Health Port Perry each offer a Maternal/Newborn Program where the focus is Family Centred Care. The needs of the family and baby are foremost, babies stay in the room with their mothers, and fathers are encouraged to come and go with their other children – or even stay overnight with their partner in a private room.

Lakeridge Health creates an atmosphere as home-like as possible, but with the technology and support that’s needed. Caring doctors and nurses follow leading-edge practices in which the new mom, dad and baby can bond and leave as a family in the truest meaning of the word.

The three hospitals offer various programs including prenatal tours, parenting and birthing classes, non-stress testing, breast-feeding support services (also offered at Lakeridge Health Uxbridge), genetic counselling (Lakeridge Health Oshawa only) and midwifery (Lakeridge Health Bowmanville only). Lakeridge Health Bowmanville (three labour/birthing/recovery rooms and eight post-partum beds) and Lakeridge Health Port Perry (three labour/birthing/recovery/post-partum rooms and one outpatient clinic room) are hospitals that offer one-on-one nursing for low-risk mothers who are in active labour.

All high-risk pregnancies that require advanced services are referred to Lakeridge Health Oshawa because it is a Ministry of Health designated advanced level II perinatal centre. It has six labour/birthing/recovery rooms, one high-risk birthing room, two high-risk antenatal rooms, one operative suite where cesarian-sections can be performed and 26 post-partum beds. Lakeridge Health Oshawa has 13 obstetricians and eight paediatricians, one of whom is a neonatal specialist running the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

In Bowmanville, Physician Leader Dr. Paul Hoy says the birthing suites “are user-friendly for patients and staff.” He explained that there are eight or nine family practitioners helping women give birth at the hospital as well as three obstetricians on staff. Earlier this year a Midwifery Program with full obstetrical backup was created to offer Durham women a choice.

Obstetrician Dr. Nicolette Caccia says the birthing suites “allow us to better support women and the changes in their family. Satisfaction surveys show that continuum of care – the one-on-one nursing – is something patients appreciate.”

Stacey Cutting and Kelly Penticost, who both recently had their second child at the hospital, agree. “Both times, I had the same nurses,” Stacey said. “They’re someone to trust while you’re in labour.”

“The care is excellent and couldn’t get any better,” Kelly added. “The one-on-one nursing is great… they know exactly what I’m going through.”

Port Perry’s New Life Centre is “a fantastic set-up,” said family practitioner Dr. Nancy Kazarian. “Being in the same room through all stages of labour and birth makes women more comfortable, which in turn makes the birthing process easier.”

Physician Leader Dr. Mike Gilmour explained that until the New Life Centre was established five years ago because at that time, “a woman in labour would transfer from the labour room to the delivery room to the post-partum room. Now the patient stays in one room throughout her stay in the New Life Centre.”

Nurses help set the tone for the centre, both doctors agree. “Nurses are compassionate – they make our patients feel they care about them and what they’re going through,” Dr. Gilmour said. “Our nurses are good at what they do and they help us work as a team,” Dr. Kazarian added.

Just ask Michelle and Don Jack or Cathy and Tom Hunter. The Jacks called their experience incredible. “It’s the best first birth experience any couple could have,” Michelle said. “I haven’t had to move from room to room like many of my friends who’ve delivered elsewhere.”

Cathy, who had complications giving birth, says nursing staff “were fantastic at helping me with all the ups and downs.” Her husband Tom added, “I can’t say enough good things about the staff.”

Lakeridge Health Oshawa is now a regional centre capable of caring for younger, more at-risk premature babies. Some preemies that otherwise would have been transferred to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children have been cared for in Oshawa. Physician Leaders Dr. Myles Beatty (Maternal/Child) and Dr. Mary Mitchell (Paediatrics/Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) agree that when a mother has a child that’s not well it is hard enough, but to not be able to touch or see the child is extremely stressful.

Dr. Beatty says the Maternal/Newborn Program has welcomed four new obstetricians in the last year. “One was a replacement, but we are a growing population and our obstetrics staff is aging. We have to ensure that we have adequate staffing today and tomorrow.”

The NICU program will be expanded over the next 18 months, Dr. Mitchell says. A regional neonatal follow-up clinic has just opened to offer developmental assessment for all premature babies.

“If language and behaviour problems are diagnosed earlier and referred to therapy sooner, the outcome is better,” she said. “We have qualified people and state-of-the-art equipment. By being linked with the Child Health Network, parents and their children can expect the same quality of care they’d get at Sick Kids but a lot closer to home.”

For more information on Lakeridge Health’s Maternal/Newborn Program, call 905-623-3331 ext. 3790 (Bowmanville), 905-576-8711 ext. 2200 (Oshawa) or 905-985-7321 ext. 5525 (Port Perry). For breast-feeding support services in Uxbridge, call 905-852-9771 ext. 5291.