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Coming together to strengthen maternity care


woman sits at her desk in front of her computer
Dr. Janssen is a maternity provider and one of the leads for the Maternity Care Initiative project in Vanderhoof.

St. John Hospital in Vanderhoof is the main delivery centre for maternity patients in 18 surrounding communities, including Indigenous communities, that extend as far North as Takla Nation, South to Saik’uz First Nation, and west to Grassy Plains and Burns Lake.

Health care providers from each of these communities have been working together on a new project, the Maternity Care Initiative project (funded by the General Practice Services Committee), with a common goal of strengthening expectant mothers’ transitions in care between Vanderhoof and their home communities.

In August 2020, the project kicked off with discussions between health care providers from the outlying community clinics and wellness centres. The group identified a primary issue: gaps in communication, especially with the Indigenous communities, and set out to explore solutions that might improve transitions in maternity care.

Dr. Janssen is one of the leads for the project; she is a maternity provider and the Chief of Staff for Vanderhoof.

“We're really hopeful these are achievable projects,” said Dr. Janssen. “There's always the desire to build and expand and make things bigger and grander but this can be a risk, so we're trying to find an achievable goal we can see through to completion. We want to see success in the community and I think we can do it.”

With the concept of the project identified – communication in transitions in care – the project team started by reviewing the maternity process map and collecting data around previous transitions in care and provider satisfaction of the current processes.

A nurse who currently works part-time at the Vanderhoof Omineca Medical Clinic was recruited to be part of the project team to collect baseline data. She conducted a chart audit by going back about a year to look at patients from other communities who were referred to Vanderhoof for maternity care (about 15-20 patients), how quickly their referral paperwork arrived, and how quickly the patient was received. This data, along with the satisfaction survey results and process mapping review, are guiding the team to identify gaps, the impact these have on the patient’s care, and improvements that can be made based on this information.

In order to understand concerns from the patient perspective, the project team is seeking connection with the Patient Voices Network to have a patient involved in the project. Additionally, the project team will identify and invite additional partners to be involved in the project. The expectation of all team members is to acknowledge the identified gaps and issues, provide feedback on the gaps, and develop appropriate outcomes that will improve transitions in maternity care.

Moving forward, the project team will continue to meet to develop outcomes for the project through review of the standards of care and modes of communication between Vanderhoof and the home health centres. The group will also repeat the provider satisfaction survey once every six months to show change and improvement based on the outcomes of this project.