Dr. Graham, site director of the OBED, checks in on a new mom in a hospital bed holding her new baby with her young daughter standing next to her on the bed.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Norman Regional Health System’s Obstetrical Emergency Department (OBED) elevates the standard of care for expectant mothers, which in return keeps patients safe, increases employee and patient satisfaction, and saves lives.

Norman Regional’s OBED opened in July 2018 at the Norman Regional HealthPlex. The OBED allows for pregnant women to be seen by a board-certified OB hospitalists any time of the day, any day of the year for any concern they may have or when they think they’re in labor. Norman Regional’s OBED started by accepting patients 20 weeks gestation and above, but recently lowered the gestational age to 16 weeks for all OB-related complaints. The OB hospitalist will work closely with a patient’s primary physician and the nursing staff to assess her condition, discuss her care options and provide appropriate treatment.

Since opening, Norman Regional has had zero maternal mortalities, decreased the number of near-misses or nurse-assisted deliveries, and eliminated the delay of care for OB patients who come into the Emergency Department (ED).

“Opening an OBED within the Labor and Delivery department has been one of the most positive patient safety projects I have been involved with in my career,” said Annette Troxell, MS, RNC-OB, nurse manager for Norman Regional’s labor and delivery unit and the OBED. “There is no substitute for having a board-certified OB/GYN in a labor unit 24/7. We are equipped and prepared to provide immediate care for any OB-related emergency. Labor and Delivery’s relationship with the ED has strengthened. Delay in patient care has been eliminated which has increased the morale of our nurses, increased physician satisfaction, and most importantly, ensured the safest environment for our patients to receive care. It’s a win-win-win.”

Patrick Cody, DO, medical director of EMSSTAT and an emergency medicine physician, agreed that the OBED has strengthened the relationship with not only the ED, but with EMSSTAT as well.

“The amazing thing about the OBED/EMSSTAT relationship is that it allows the medics to have unprecedented access to experts in OB/GYN. This collaboration has led to the early treatment of true obstetrical emergencies in the field,” Dr. Cody said. “I can think of an example where a patient had very concerning symptoms conveyed from the dispatcher and in consultation with the OBED physician, the crew chief was able to pick up medicine we don’t normally carry on our trucks and take it to the scene of the patient. The patient was quite far away from the hospital but life-saving care was started in literally half the time. The transition to the OBED was seamless and the result was a positive outcome for both mom and baby. Most health systems simply do not have this level of integration.”

Becky Graham, DO, site director of the OBED, said she and the other OB hospitalists’ goal is to keep patients safe and satisfied.

“We’re very pleased to be here to help elevate the level of care in Norman and the surrounding communities. We’re not here to compete with the community physicians, we’re here to compliment them,” Dr. Graham said.

Dr. Graham also said the OBED is helpful because it eliminates the need for on-call physicians’ drop-in patients, allows the physicians to get some sleep if a patient comes in in the middle of the night, and makes sure every patient who comes is seen by a board-certified OB/GYN so it takes some pressure off the nurses.

“The major thing is we have a doctor here 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s for sure the biggest and most beneficial change,” said Stacy Moore, a RN in the OBED.

Norman Regional’s OBED not only treats pregnancy concerns, but also women presenting with post-birth warning signs or women who are at risk for postpartum hypertension up to six weeks postpartum.

Norman Regional recently started a Blue Band Program where labor and delivery patients who are diagnosed during their hospital stay with preeclampsia, gestational hypertension or chronic hypertension are given a blue wristband they are instructed to wear up to six weeks postpartum.

The labor and delivery staff has worked closely with the ED to ensure they are familiar with these initiatives and any patients presenting with post-birth warning signs symptoms or who are wearing a blue band are fast-tracked to the OBED.

“The OBED has been a labor of love and takes collaboration from multiple departments inside and outside the health system’s walls, but it is one of the things I am most proud of in my role as director,” said Susie Graves, RN, director of Women’s and Children’s. “Our primary focus is to offer exceptional care in a safe environment and we are happy to provide yet another service and new safety initiatives to help benefit the new moms and babies.”

All unscheduled labor and delivery or postpartum patients are asked to use the HealthPlex’s emergency entrance located at the east side of Norman Regional HealthPlex. From there, maternal or postpartum patients will be brought to the OBED.

Learn more about the OBED.