What’s it like to be a patient in your own hospital if you’re also the Chief Medical Officer (CMO)?
Dr. Loren Robinson, Chief Medical Officer at CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital in Texarkana, TX, recently spoke with us about her experience visiting St. Michael’s Obstetrics Emergency Department (OBED) during her pregnancy, how her delivery went, and her scary postpartum experience. She also shared her perspective of OBHG hospitalists – from both a patient viewpoint and CMO viewpoint. Here’s her story, in her words:
Q: First, talk to us about your pregnancy. Did you anticipate an easy pregnancy and delivery?
A: Absolutely. This was my second pregnancy; I had a planned C-section and I expected everything to go smoothly. I expected my OB/GYN would be the one to deliver my son and I’d have a smooth, uneventful delivery.
Q: Sounds like everything didn’t go as planned. Did you need to visit the hospital during your pregnancy?
A: Yes, when I was 36 weeks pregnant, I started having some lower abdominal discomfort and something just didn’t feel right. I talked it over with my husband. I didn’t want to add more work for the doctors, but I thought I should probably get checked out. I drove myself to the hospital and went upstairs to the OBED.
(OBHG clinician) Dr. Ledley was on shift. Right away, I felt at ease when she came in the room just to talk to me first and let me know they were going to look at me and the baby to find out what was going on and what they needed to do. The whole way that she approached it, I immediately felt super comfortable.
Dr. Ledley was very thorough, very gentle, kind, and supportive throughout the exam telling me what was going on. The baby was doing fine. I was doing fine. I think my blood pressure was fine. She said, “You’re starting to have some contractions and you need to take it easy.” Doctors don’t ever take it easy. No woman takes it easy. But she said, “I’m not your OB, I’m taking care of you here today. I’m already starting to see some regular contractions, even though you’re not feeling them. The baby is looking great, but my recommendation would be for you to try to lower your stress and take it easy for the rest of your pregnancy but talk to your OB doctor about that.”
I saw my doctor the next day. She said that I needed to be staying at home, not on bed rest, but definitely not coming to the hospital for work. Thankfully, I was able to work from home for the next few weeks and do my own version of “taking it easy.”
Q: What happened when you went into labor? Did the birth go as planned?
A: I’d been having some Braxton Hicks contractions during the day – at least I thought they were Braxton Hicks; they were weird twinges. During my first pregnancy, I had a C-section scheduled because he was breech and I had never gone into labor. So, I had never experienced a contraction before. I was just having these twinges. I wasn’t sure what they were.
Then I started having actual, real contractions. I didn’t let my husband know because he’s a little bit more of a panic person than I am. Every time I would have a contraction, I would go into the hall and hold onto the wall and breathe through it. I was scheduled for a C-section in a couple of days. I remember Googling how long I could have contractions at home without having to go to the hospital.
I kept thinking that if I could wait until the next day, my private OB could take care of me. But babies and contractions don’t care about what you want. So finally, at about 9 p.m. I told my husband that we needed to go to the hospital. Right now.
By the time I got to the hospital, I was already seven or eight centimeters dilated. The staff called my private doctor and he got to the hospital and did my C-section. My son was born just after midnight. Everything seemed like it was going fine to me. I remember looking at the baby and thinking he’s got my same nose. He was healthy. Our first son had to go to the NICU, so we were separated. It was a very different experience where this time, they got the baby out, and he was healthy and fine.
Q: What happened during recovery?
A: In recovery, everything seemed fine at first. I was sitting in the room and the nurse was checking how much I was bleeding. I had had a spinal, so I couldn’t feel anything. She said, “Oh, you’re bleeding a little bit.” I was so drowsy; I don’t even think I looked down. I didn’t feel anything. I felt fine. My blood pressure looked okay. She said she’d come back and check on me. When she came back to check me again, she said “You’re bleeding more than you should be. Let me call the doctor who delivered you.” So, they tried to reach him, and they couldn’t.
The bleeding wasn’t slowing down, so, they reached out to the OBED and got in touch with (OBHG clinician) Dr. Scales.
Dr. Scales came to my bedside immediately. I felt like he was there within a couple of minutes after the nurse left the room. I think that’s when I realized this is serious. But as a patient, I really appreciated that he came right away. I think that’s the expectation of any mom or any patient – you think your doctor’s going to be there.
Previously, all my interactions with Dr. Scales had been completely professional. He’s a great doctor. I know I can trust his clinical judgment and his input about obstetrical issues – but at that moment, it made such a difference to me and my husband that he came to the bedside right away, that he examined me. He was respectful. He told me I was losing quite a bit of blood. Then he explained what the plan was and got things started. I didn’t need a blood transfusion. I received a medication that helps the uterus contract to make sure that you don’t have any retained products or blood. Dr. Scales was just so awesome.
Q: What was it like to be a patient in your hospital receiving urgently needed care?
A: It was a humbling moment for me to be a patient in my own hospital, but also to have Dr. Scales come to the bedside. And I think as a hospital executive, some people may think there’s preferential treatment. But one of the great things about our OB hospitalists is that they will always see the patients. They will care for the high-risk patients, and patients in the clinic and always be there if there’s a complication.
An extra layer of care
What is the value of having a 24/7 OB hospitalist program at your hospital?
At first, there was some pushback from the doctors. I think everyone hates change, but nobody hates change more than doctors. At first, our physicians questioned why we needed an OB hospitalist program.
But now, their quality of life has been improved. They can be at home with their families instead of always coming in to take care of patients. They also don’t have to always take call or be in the hospital at times they probably didn’t need to be.
Having that second layer of care is so important, especially as we work to get broadband and better Wi-Fi coverage in our community. Unfortunately, there are places in this town where your phone just doesn’t ring. And then a couple of hours later you have a voicemail – not the ideal setup for an OB/GYN on call.
I’m glad to know that we have that extra layer of care here in the hospital, not just taking care of their own patients, but also just there to stand in and help with anyone who needs help. That’s what we, as physicians took an oath to do. And I just really feel like OBHG is really the embodiment of that.”
Q: After your patient experience, what is your current perception of OBHG?
A: There is a place for OBHG. It’s an amazing option to help deliver the patients who are on the fringe, patients who may not have been treated with compassion. I know that our patients are going to always be taken care of by the OBHG team, they’re always going to be treated with compassion and respect, which really assures me because I don’t ever have to have hard conversations with the doctors of OBHG. I know that they’re treating patients the way that I would want patients to be treated.
Being a patient who wouldn’t necessarily have had this experience because I have a private doctor, having the experience of seeing Dr. Ledley in the OBED and then having Dr. Scales come and take care of me postpartum was just amazing.
With this experience, these are exactly the doctors that I would want to take care of me. I love knowing that they are here to take care of the women, the mothers in our hospital. I would recommend OBHG to anyone.