By Ameera Steward
The Birmingham Times
Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham has recently been named to Newsweek’s 2020 list of Best Maternity Care Hospitals, one of only two in Alabama. The distinction goes to facilities in the U.S. that have excelled in providing care to mothers, newborns, and their families.
Princeton Baptist was one of 231 hospitals across 36 states to receive the honor. Vaughan Regional Medical Center in Selma was the only other hospital in Alabama on the list.
Pat Franklin, Princeton Baptist’s Nurse Manager of Women’s Services, said the entire staff was honored to receive the award, and they see it as recognition for what they do every day.
“We try to work together as a team to make sure we take excellent care of [families], … to make sure we can meet the desires they have as much as possible and ensure that everyone is treated well and receives quality care,” she said.
“[Everyone on the staff] is on the same page,” she added. “We all want what’s best for the patient, … so the labor-and-delivery staff work together, the OB-GYN physicians work together, the mother-baby nurses work together, and then the whole group works together toward the goal of providing quality care.”
Princeton Baptist offers a range of maternity and women’s-care services, including delivery, gynecology, and a neonatal intensive care unit. The team also promotes mother-baby couplet care, which allows babies to stay with moms in their rooms as opposed to going out to a nursery, so infants are with their mothers the entire time.
“We encourage that bonding,” Franklin said. “The mom and the baby also are cared for by the same nurse, so [that one nurse] knows exactly what’s going on with and can meet the needs of each one.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all hospitals to prevent visitors from seeing patients, and this includes women with newborns. When a woman is in delivery, the only people allowed to accompany her are her partner and support person.
Princeton Baptist also allows patients to have assistance from doulas, women trained to give nonmedical support to women during labor, as well as provide emotional and physical comfort throughout the childbirth process.
“We allow the patient to bring her doula from the very beginning because the doula is part of the health care team; they play a very big supporting role, especially with moms who choose natural childbirth because they need … [help with] breathing techniques and position changes. The doula assists with all of that,” said Franklin, adding that the doula is a great assistance to the nurse, too, because the nurse has clinical responsibilities, whereas the doula focuses on the well-being of the mom.
Under the current COVID-19 restrictions, the maternity staff is sensitive to new moms who had expected extended family to visit: “Suddenly, you’re told, ‘Sorry, no one but you and your support person can be [present],’ which saddens the [patient],” Franklin said.
So, Princeton Baptist’s nurses take on more of a comforting role because the extended family can’t be there.
“Of course, thank goodness for FaceTime because … that brings [others] a little bit closer and is better than not having anyone here at all,” Franklin said.
As an additional pandemic-related safety precaution, staff must “wear masks with all patients,” Franklin said.
“That part of it is very different because nurses are very hands-on kind of people,” she added. “I think COVID-19 has kept us from being as hands-on as we have been in the past.”
Despite the current challenges, the Princeton Baptist maternity-care team stays focused on providing the best possible care and support by spending time at the bedside of each mom and talking about ways to make the birth experience special.
“We want that day to be special for everyone, for it to be what they anticipated and more,” Franklin said.