“Moms are meant to thrive, not just survive," said Briana Tyson, a perinatal navigational nurse and lactation consultant with Putnam County Hospital.
Successful prenatal care and the opportunity to thrive as new mothers are exactly what the team at Putnam County Hospital is helping to ensure with the mothers-to-be they treat. Putnam County Hospital closed its OB unit in 2011, but has since implemented a new model including a nurse midwife and a perinatal navigational nurse to serve women in Putnam County and the surrounding area before they deliver their newborn babies. Thanks to federal grants as well as a grant from the Indiana Rural Health Association and a new collaboration with Union Health in Terre Haute, the team at Putnam County Hospital is able to offer expecting mothers access to quality prenatal care, closer to home.
Before the new model was implemented, expecting mothers were driving for care—over an hour each way in some cases, Tyson said. This led to delayed treatments and limited the number of times patients could attend appointments.
“It is incredibly important to seek care early on in pregnancy," Tyson said. “There are a lot of risk factors that can be easily prevented, and we can identify factors that may negatively impact pregnancy. In addition, there are barriers to living in a rural community that those living in some larger cities don't have to worry about."
One of those barriers is transportation. Putnam County Hospital is able to provide a transport van if expecting mothers and other patients have no way of getting to and from appointments. In addition, the team works to identify social determinants of health, locate gaps in patient experiences, provide prenatal education, and offer nutritional services to women and children. The hospital also provides free pregnancy and STD tests, along with access to birth control at no cost.
Women are able to receive all their prenatal care close to home, at Putnam County Hospital, and then deliver at the hospital of their choice. Many are choosing Union Health in Terre Haute for its Level 3 NICU and 24/7 OB-ED.
“Having this service is truly a blessing to the community, and every mother deserves this level of care throughout their pregnancy," said Darla Berry, a Certified Nurse Midwife at Union Health. “We want to encourage mothers to be in control of their health, and this partnership allows for that."
Berry reports that nearly all of the women at Putnam have sought care in the first trimester and Tyson said of the new mothers they have treated, approximately 87% initiated breastfeeding with 90% still breastfeeding after a month.
The prenatal care and tireless efforts from the team at Putnam County Hospital plus the collaboration with Union Health is a testament to how committed the team is to helping women and families in the community. Tyson and Berry said they are both incredibly grateful to be a part of a maternal health system that is unique and leading the way for critical access hospitals in Indiana.
“I feel honored to be a part of these soon-to-be mothers' stories and on the support team for the hospital," Tyson said. “Helping women reach their goals while being on their unique journey is the best part of my job and something I truly cherish."