A Better Maternity Experience

OB hospitalists provide added staffing

Pregnancy has many joyful moments, but also a lot of anxiety about symptoms. Is this bleeding sign of a rupture? Does my back pain indicate something more serious? Is the baby OK?

In fact, nearly every day pregnant patients come to Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital because of a symptom or fear related to their impending delivery. At some hospitals, if it is not an emergency, these patients might wait several hours or stay overnight without seeing a physician. That is one reason why Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital has an OB hospitalist program, an innovative approach to maternity inpatient care.


What is an OB hospitalist?

OB hospitalists are board-certified OB/Gyn physicians who do not have a private practice. Instead, they choose to treat pregnant and postpartum patients in the hospital. OB hospitalists provide a 24/7, onsite physician presence and work with the patient’s OB/Gyn to provide immediate, expert care.

Many patients assume at least one physician is present on each floor or department of a hospital. But that’s not always the case. Often, the OB/Gyn physician may not be able to go to the hospital because of scheduling commitments or other patients, and information is transmitted by a nurse. However, hospitalized patients need advanced care, sometimes at all hours of the night. When this care is managed remotely, patient safety is at risk.

“It’s about putting patient comfort and safety first,” says Tanner Colegrove, MD, a board-certified OB/Gyn and medical director of the new Northwestern Lake Forest OB hospitalist program. “We provide a constant physician presence at the hospital—an extension of the patient’s OB/Gyn.”


Who are the OB Hospitalists?

Many in the community know Dr. Colegrove from her six years in private practice. She is joined by Shayna Mancuso, DO, a board-certified OB/Gyn who worked in private practice as well as a Chicago-based OB hospitalist program for more than seven years before coming to Northwestern Lake Forest.

Both physicians—who are mothers themselves—were drawn to the OB hospitalist program because it allows them to remain connected to obstetrical care while improving work-life balance. At the same time, the presence of OB hospitalists makes things easier for private OB/Gyns. Obstetrical care is unpredictable and constant, and more flexibility and rest for private OB/Gyns benefits all of their patients.

In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Patient Safety and Quality Improvement recently published an opinion detailing how OB hospitalists benefit patients as well as private OB/Gyn practices, nurses and hospitals. Although hospitalist medicine is a relatively new medical specialization, many advanced care institutions and academic medical centers (including Northwestern Memorial Hospital) have had some version of an OB hospitalist program in place for several years.


Honoring the Patient/Physician Relationship

“I know from experience that the OB/Gyn relationship is a sacred one—it involves a woman’s most important decisions, and it develops over a long period,” says Dr. Colegrove. “None of the care we provide changes that, and much of what we do is behind the scenes. I make it clear to patients who I am and that I’m sort of a ‘bridge’ to their physician.”

With the patient’s experience in mind, Dr. Mancuso takes a similar approach.

“Ultimately, it’s about providing the highest level of care,” she says. “We strive to augment the patient-physician relationship. I introduce myself, clarify my role and assure patients that I’m in constant contact with their physician.”


Benefits of OB Hospitalists

OB hospitalists make maternity departments better, safer places and have the following responsibilities at Northwestern Lake Forest:

  • Provide a 24/7 onsite physician presence and peace of mind for obstetric inpatients
  • Evaluate, test and coordinate with the patient’s physician for immediate care
  • Assist in the management of labor until your physician arrives
  • Coordinate care of pregnant patients with unrelated conditions such as gastroenteritis or influenza
  • Serve as specially trained first responders in OB/Gyn emergencies

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