Teamwork and family spirit key to WLMH’s bustling obstetrics program
On December 16, 1986, Sabrina von Keitz (nee Armstrong) was welcomed into the world at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) by family physician Dr. Mary O’Dea.
A little more than 30 years later, Dr. O’Dea helped von Keitz deliver her own baby girl. Eleanor was born on January 3, 2017, weighing in at 9 pounds, 12 ounces.
“It felt like a group of friends caring for me. It was an amazing experience.”
von Keitz left Grimsby for post-secondary education in Guelph followed by work in Thunder Bay, but returned to the community she loves with her husband Michael to start a family and pursue their careers. Throughout her life, Dr. O’Dea continued as her physician, and having her family doctor deliver her baby at WLMH was important.
Being there for local families
More than 900 new babies are born at WLMH every year. It is is designated as a low-risk obstetrics unit, providing care for women who have good overall health, with few or no complications, and who deliver at their baby at least 36 weeks gestation.
“In obstetrics we have to be prepared for everything and that’s why we have the expertise and necessary equipment to quickly and safely address emergencies that may arise even in low-risk births, such as cord prolapse, shoulder dystocia and ruptured uterus,” says Dr. Nwachukwu Nwebube, WLMH site chief for obstetrics and gynecology.
“A collaborative spirit prevails here at West Lincoln and that’s good for everyone.”
The hospital’s obstetrics program has a strong reputation that extends far beyond the area, with many patients coming from St. Catharines, Niagara and Welland to deliver their babies.
“Our program’s appeal is testament to the kind of care women receive from the nurses, family physicians, obstetricians and midwives,” Dr. Nwebube adds. “A collaborative spirit prevails here at West Lincoln and that’s good for everyone.”
Sharing expertise to enhance care
In addition to three obstetricians, the delivery team also includes 12 family physicians, six midwives and a full team of obstetrics nurses. Midwives provide complete care for women from early pregnancy, labour and delivery, through to six weeks after the delivery of the baby. Midwives tend to be non-interventional in their approach and support women through a natural delivery. However, in hospital they can also support women who have had an epidural or have had their labour induced.
Because of this collaborative spirit among all health professionals, family physicians and midwives don’t hesitate to seek the opinion of one of the obstetricians if any questions arise, which ensures the best care for mom and baby.
Delivering her baby where she was born
For family physicians who also deliver babies, the continuity of care throughout the pregnancy can extend throughout the baby’s life into adulthood, as it has for von Keitz and Dr. O’Dea. The care she received throughout her pregnancy speaks to the collaborative spirit at WLMH.
“The nurses are wonderful,” von Keitz says. “I actually came into WLMH four times prior to my water breaking because of suspected issues … they were supportive every time.”
She was scheduled for a c-section on January 4, because Eleanor was in a breech position, but her water broke a day earlier. The delivery team included obstetrician Dr. Tina Gai, assisted by Dr. O’Dea, and Dr. Danielle Charbonneau a family physician who is also trained to provide anaesthesia.
“I love that it feels like a small family here,” von Keitz says. “I was anxious about having a c-section. I wanted to go all natural. But they all work so well together and as I was in surgery, it felt like a group of friends caring for me. It was an amazing experience.”