Profiles of Change
Evergreen Hospital Medical Center, Kirkland, Washington
Family-Centered Care in the Women's & Children’s Services Unit of a County Hospital
The purpose of Evergreen Hospital Medical Center is "working together to enrich the health and well-being of every life we touch." Since 1984 Evergreen Hospital Medical Center has been striving to create a natural and supportive atmosphere for childbearing women and their families. The hospital's philosophy centers on the following principles:
“I had so many questions, and I really felt like the Family Maternity Center was with me every step of the way. By the time we had taken the prenatal classes, I was prepared to make my own choices about how the birth would go, and my family was able to understand and enjoy the whole experience-through pregnancy, the birth, and bringing home a brand new baby!”
Changing the approach. Staff at Evergreen used to think of childbirth as a medical event rather than a family experience. Now, staff focus on education and patient choice. Nurses have been cross-trained to care for families during labor, birth, and postpartum in order to enhance continuity of care.
Respecting choices. Instead of being told about what will happen, families develop a written birth plan that includes their preferences about pain medication and relaxation techniques. In the plan, they share any religious, cultural, and family traditions they wish to observe during their stay. Care providers respect and honor family choices-the only steadfast hospital "rule" is hand-washing-family preferences guide all other aspects of care.
Providing information and support. The hospital offers a comprehensive education program to help families make educated choices, and prepare parents for parenting as well as for childbirth. Classes are timed throughout the pregnancy to stages when research indicates families are best able to learn. Free weekly parent-baby classes are offered to each new family for three months. Parenting classes are available to families with older infants at a nominal fee. Another component of the education program, couples communication, helps parents learn to communicate more effectively.
Enlisting parents as advisors. Families collaborate with staff to shape the maternity, nursery and pediatrics programs at Evergreen Hospital. They serve on quality-improvement and space-planning teams and periodically help revise the childbirth education program. Many parents who have delivered at Evergreen participate in a parent-to-parent volunteer program, providing peer support to new families.
Reflecting the philosophy in facility design. At every opportunity, the hospital facility has been redesigned in collaboration with families to reflect the philosophy and support the continuum of care and full range of perinatal, childbirth, neonatal and pediatric services. This has helped the hospital incorporate the highest levels of advanced technical care into a family-centered, single-room setting in all areas of Women's & Children's Services.
Providing single-room care, to make it easier for parents, baby, and family to stay together. Single room care is designed around the needs of patient and family, with sophisticated medical equipment either present in the room or brought in as needed, and space for family to sleep, shower, keep family belongings, plus refrigerator, TV, stereo, phones, and a special sink to bathe infants. This encourages families to become partners in the healing process, and be actively involved in the care of their loved one(s) 24 hours a day, increasing their confidence, competence and comfort.
Extending single-room care into the level III intensive care and level II special care nurseries. Providing special and intensive services in soothing private suites with space for families to stay with their babies supports the individualized, developmentally-based care needs of infants and their families. Each room is set up to care for twins, and several for triplets. Siblings, relatives, and friends are welcome to enjoy the comforts of family gathering spaces, including wing atriums, active play area, quiet play room, reflection room, central family lounge, family kitchen lounge, and classroom with family movie evenings.
Opportunities to provide practical support are not overlooked. Family care in the-hospital is a 24-hour experience, just as it is at home. Little details make a big difference-and being able to do normal activities of daily life, such as cooking and laundry, in designated family spaces, just steps away from a loved one-is one way families can maintain a sense of normalcy and spend more time together. Homemade soup is available when the cafeteria is closed to ensure new mothers can receive a hot nutritious meal at any time of day, and a complimentary continental breakfast is provided for families in the family kitchen lounge. The Baby & Family Boutique at Evergreen provides families a convenient place to shop for carefully selected unique and practical maternity, breastfeeding and educational items for baby, mom and family.
Evergreen's program has led to higher family satisfaction, passionate loyalty and a healthier beginning for families. Ninety percent of mothers breastfeed their newborns and 95% return for a follow-up postpartum care clinic visit three or four days after delivery, further ensuring the health and well-being of the infants and mothers. The hospital has been recognized for excellence regionally and internationally. It was the first health care facility in the United States to be designated as a "baby-friendly" hospital by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
For general information about Evergreen Hospital Medical Center & Evergreen Healthcare, contact:
12040 NE 128th Street. Kirkland, WA 98034
More information about the Family Maternity Center and Women's & Children's Services can be found at the Evergreen site (http://www.evergreenhospital.org).