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St. Mary’s Women’s Health Practice is Closing: What should their patients do now?

st marys closingYou may have heard the rumors, and they are true, the St. Marys Women’s Health Practice is closing October 13th.
I am totally sad to hear about it and you may be too. 
So what in the heck are you supposed to do now? I can’t even begin to imagine the confusion and stress some of you might be feeling when something this important is so uncertain. Some of you will be so close to your estimated due date that you don’t have very much time to figure it out.
Where are you supposed to start?
I have quickly put together a list of resources and tips to help you.
Call your insurance company.
I will admit that when it comes to the money and insurance side, I won’t be much help. These are just things I do not know enough about, the variances are huge and they change so quickly that even if I did know at one point, I doubt I could keep up.
But call them. Ask them what to do. Ask them questions about out of pocket options and who else they cover. Make a list of these people and tasks.
This may not be a fun to do list, but this is a time that action is required.
Hire a professional doula ASAP.
While we are on the topic of insurance, did you know that some will cover or reimburse you for hiring a doula? If you have not already hired a doula, now would be an ideal time. While we may not be able to do it for you, we can help you navigate this process. We will remain a constant when everything else is up in the air. We can help you advocate for yourself and will support you in your own personal birth experience, whatever that looks like.
Bright Heart Birth Services is a great place to start. www.brightheartbirth.com
Open all the doors. Follow every path.
What are your options for care? You may have more than you think.
Wait and see- There might be a possibility that your current ob-gyn/midwife will be able to continue seeing you through either a different or private practice. If this is something you would like to see happen, let them know. Ask them if there is a way they can keep in touch with you if this option arises.
Another provider who delivers at your chosen hospital- Hopefully you will have a smooth and easy transition to another wonderful and supportive provider. This of course would be ideal!
Another provider who delivers at another area hospital- Remember we have St. Marys, Renown, Carson Tahoe and Tahoe Forest. Broaden your scope and you broaden your options.
If you want to stay in the Reno area, I’d give these offices a ring:
Sierra Women’s Health – 775-323-1300
Reno Women’s Health – 775-337-8400
Homebirth with a skilled and experienced midwife- If you are low risk and planning to have an unmedicated birth, this may be a safer option than you think.
“Homebirth midwives in our community all have medical training specifically geared towards out of hospital birth. We are trained to watch for signs that you may need medical attention outside of our scope and refer you to a doctor or hospital. We are medically trained to effectively monitor you and your baby throughout pregnancy, labor, birth and 6-8 weeks postpartum.” says local midwife Amanda Macdonald.
Another local midwife, Diane Schaub, shared with me that “statistics indicate that if a woman is low risk and she has a trained, skilled attendant at her birth, her likelihood of having a normal birth and a healthy baby at home is just as good or better than if she were to have her baby in a hospital setting.”
Many of the local midwives work with insurance companies, so it may be covered and for some people a home birth is less expensive than a hospital birth. Many midwives also offer extended payments and medicaid discounts.
“St. Mary’s Women’s Health closing is decreasing options for women and that is certainly a loss for our community. We encourage you to take a look and explore all of your options. Licensed Midwives and Certified Professional Midwives can often meet your well woman, prenatal, birth and postpartum needs. There is nothing more important than the way we give birth, it really matters. Find someone you feel safe with for your sacred journey into motherhood.” encourages midwife Misty McBride.
If you are at all considering the idea of a home birth, call and have a chat with one of our local midwives. Some of their contact info is listed on my website here:
Interim care with a midwife- If the idea of having your baby in an out of hospital setting is not something you are interested in or is not ideal for you based on your risk factors, due to our areas providers becoming increasingly busy, it may take some time to get into a new doctor. You may consider seeing a homebirth midwife for temporary care so you don’t have to miss any important appointments in the transition. If you end up having to pay out of pocket their per visit cost is extremely reasonable and worth the peace of mind.
Midwife Tiffany Hoffman tells me “We provide the same services. We can order all blood work, testing or ultrasounds necessary, easily transfer electronic records to any new provider and our office visits happen on the same schedule as other providers; every 4 weeks until 28 weeks, every 2 weeks until 36 weeks, and then weekly.”
They wont judge you for choosing a hospital birth, they respect your choice of birthing in an environment you feel safe in. Amanda Macdonald confirms, “The cornerstones of excellent midwifery care are personal responsibility for your own health choices, decision making based on truly informed consent through discussion with your midwife, as well as decisions based on your own needs and desires. You and your baby deserve quality care. We will make sure your pregnancy is on track until you can see a doctor.”
Two local home birth midwives offering interim care are:
 
Write a birth plan.
A birth plan is not a contract, but it is a communication tool. It also helps you learn about your birth options and make some choices for what is important to you so you can focus on being in labor. This will be helpful for whoever ends up attending to you while you have your baby. If you are unsure where to start, email me at info@brightheartbirth.com and I will send you a complimentary birth preference checklist.
Provider speed dating.
Now that you know who your options are, start looking into getting a new provider. It’s slim-pickens in our area, so it is better to get started on this right away. If you can get an appointment, make one, but don’t stop calling the other provider options on your list. If you find another that better fits your needs, you can always call back to cancel.
If you need a break between the insurance and calling doctors, ask some Mom groups what they thought of the doctors on your list. Be sure to ask about things that are important to you and what kind of births other people experienced.
Go deep in the community.
The need for support is essential for most humans. If for the moment, it is not being filled by a known birth provider, you can start to meet it by surrounding yourself with other supportive people. Caring friends, encouraging family members, a knowledgeable doula, positive stories and online and in person groups and meet ups. Primed Pregnancy is a free group meeting at the Nurturing Nest every Saturday at 12p. Nurturing Nest owner Rachel Ching shares why community is so important, “In cultures around the world pregnant women are surrounded by their family and other women who normalize their experiences. In Reno, we are often left on our own to figure it out. Pregnant women and new mothers need an active and vibrant community to answer their questions and help them understand the changes they are going through.” If you haven’t already been to the Nurturing Nest, I would highly recommended adding it to you to do list.
Papers, please.
At your next visit, or before your next visit, ask for a paper copy of your medical history, any test results and office visit notes. You can take these, along with your birth plan, with you to your new provider or in the event that you do not have a provider locked in by the time your baby needs to be born. Bringing that stack of papers helps them know that you had prenatal care and not treat you as though you did not. This will also help them understand any risks involved or any bumps you’ve had along the way.
In case of emergency.
If at any point you are worried about your own or your baby’s health, if you notice a decrease in baby’s movement or go into labor, you can always go through the ER to Labor and Delivery at any hospital.
Of course, it is always ideal that we know, trust and feel supported by our care providers, but if it is not possible, trust that everything will still very likely be okay.
You will not be turned away. Focus on the things you can do and everything else will fall into place.
 
Take a deep breath. You can do it.
If you haven’t already, now would be a good time take a deep breath, add in some self-care and practice a little mindfulness. Mindfulness and meditation have been proven to reduce stress, increase feelings of fulfillment and decrease uncomfortable sensations and reactions. Pay attention to your breath. Focus on breathing out a little slower, this is shown to decrease your heart rate.
Personally, I find listening to guided meditations to be really helpful. I really like the GentleBirth app because it has pregnancy, postpartum and stress specific tracks, but I also like Insight Timer.
Throw in a little affirmation every now and again. What we tell ourselves our brain believes to be true. Tell it good, positive, calming things. Pump yourself up.
You can handle this challenge. You are patient. You are well supported. Everything will go as it should.
When it is time for your baby to come out, someone will take care of you.

sara waltonSarah Geo Walton is the owner of Bright Heart Birth Services, a Doula, Placenta Encapsulation Specialist and Childbirth Educator.
Sarah grew up around birth and an empowered do it yourself environment.  She has always been drawn to supporting others and is so excited to have made it her career.
She is a Nevada native, mother of a wild 2 1/2-year-old child and lover of all things intuitive, connective and vulnerable.
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