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Caring for growing families in uncertain times

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | October 23, 2020
From the October 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

RJ: COVID has thrown all of healthcare for a loop. We’ve had to change a lot of the practices we’ve had. I believe we’ve been able to hold onto our values at our birth center. The three values we base all our decisions on are high-quality care, family-centered care and health equity.

Through COVID, we’ve had to be thoughtful and innovative in how we hold onto those. We had to make the decision really early to look at our visitor policies. Luckily, because we have such great partnerships in our community, we’re able to have a woman still bring her support people with her. At this time, she can have two support people with her during their time here at the hospital and that’s really helpful. At the very beginning, we were only allowing one visitor, but we’ve been able to increase that to two.

During those times when she could have just one, we had to be innovative to make sure she could still connect with her family. Again in our culturally different populations, you should have more people at your delivery. We were able to create forums and through our foundation, which is super supportive of our birth center, purchase iPads and applications that helped our families connect with their family members while they were in the hospital. So we had virtual tools where family could be with the woman while she was delivering and could have that experience with her. Our patients have given great feedback around that and we’ve been happy to support that. So virtual care and virtual visits have been key ways we’ve managed through COVID.

HCB News: Many facilities have shifted some work and some services to remote or at home activities. Have you pursued anything similar?
RJ: Regions Hospital is the largest hospital in the HealthPartners system. So we have a great opportunity to have a continuum of care where our health plan along with clinics services, research and education all work together. We’ve been innovative in connecting the dots during a time where healthcare has seemed disjointed.

Our hospital-based care hasn’t changed. So we needed to a lot of work with marketing to our patients and connecting to our patients to let them know that it is safe to deliver at the hospital, especially for high-risk women. We did a lot of outreach to our communities to let them know we are open and they can come and deliver. We do have a lot of prenatal and post-partum follow-up appointments we do virtually with families because we were finding that they didn’t feel comfortable coming into the clinic. That has been helpful to families. We do outpatient or drive-up testing related to COVID so they know their status before they get to the hospital and can plan accordingly. For the care that we’re going to deliver, our care coordinators connect with those families who are COVID positive before they come and we just reassure them of all the things that are going to help keep them and their baby safe when they get here.

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