January 18, 2019

Overlake and Evergreen launch pilot to improve mothers’ childbirth safety and experience

Quality improvement program aims to reduce C-sections and increase adherence to birth plans

Bellevue, Wash. – Overlake Medical Center and EvergreenHealth announced today that they are collaborating as two of only four hospitals in the country partnering with Ariadne Labs—a joint center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—on the Team Birth Project, an innovative program focused on empowering mothers and all members of the birth team to initiate communication and inspire more collaborative teamwork to achieve better outcomes for mothers and babies. 

The project serves as the centerpiece of the Ariadne Labs Delivery Decisions Initiative, which aims to reduce unnecessary C-sections and increase the rate of vaginal deliveries, while enhancing safety and patient experience for laboring mothers and their families through improved communication tools and strategies. C-sections are on the rise, having increased 500 percent since the 1970s, and now standing as the most common major surgery performed in the United States. South Shore Hospital in Massachusetts and St. Francis Hospital in Oklahoma were also chosen to participate.

“We are honored to have been chosen to participate in the Team Birth Project, which supports our Family Maternity Center in further empowering women and families as they collaborate with their care team to make the best possible decisions together as a team during labor,” said EvergreenHealth CEO Amy Beiter, MD. 

“Overlake’s Childbirth Center has a tradition of leadership statewide in developing initiatives to improve maternal safety,” said Overlake Medical Center President and CEO Mike Marsh. “Our collective goal is to make Washington state the safest place to have a baby, and we are dedicated to forging this path alongside these partners.”

The 18-month Team Birth Project launches at Overlake’s Childbirth Center (CBC) on January 22, 2019, and at EvergreenHealth’s Family Maternity Center (FMC) on January 23, 2019. Project objectives focus on using a coordinated care model to ensure that every member of the childbirth team—including the birthing family, nurses, midwives, obstetricians, anesthesiologists, neonatologists, doulas and other specialists—remains informed and involved at every step of the birthing process to provide the most appropriate care.  

A key component of the program is the labor and birth planning board, a patient-facing whiteboard present in every labor and delivery room that serves as an ongoing and evolving shared reference for patients, families and care team members. In addition to serving as a central, visible place to capture a mother’s intended birth plan, the tool is meant to foster teamwork, communication, and empowerment of women and families while reducing overtreatment. As part of the program, providers, staff and families hold regular “huddles” to discuss care decisions and preferences as they align with the birth plan, with the intent that everyone has a “seat at the table” when it comes to making important decisions during labor. 

“Our provider teams have enthusiastically embraced this project. We have witnessed encouraging results and believe the project can make a positive difference in every patient’s birth experience,” said Dr. Kristin Graham, medical director for Women’s and Infants’ Services at Overlake. “It reinforces the idea that providing high quality care is equally as important as communicating in a way that ensures that the birthing family’s values, concerns and preferences align with the care we are delivering.”

“It’s all about empowering women to take back their birth story and know their birth story—not just the birth plan they arrive with, but the story that transpires during delivery that can get lost in the shuffle during labor, when communication between the clinical team and the mother can break down,” explained Dr. Angela Chien, EvergreenHealth obstetrician-gynecologist. “We want women to know why decisions during their labor are being made and more than that, have a meaningful and informed voice in making those decisions. Women need to not only know their birth story, but also help write it.” 

Leading the trial is Neel Shah, MD, MPP, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School and director of Ariadne Labs’ Delivery Decisions Initiative. “Our long-term goal is to ensure every Washingtonian gets a birth that is safe, supportive and empowering,” said Shah.

Also supporting the project’s implementation is Amber Weiseth, DNP, RNC-OB, associate director of the Delivery Decisions Initiative. Weiseth worked as a nurse in EvergreenHealth’s Family Maternity Center for nearly 15 years and completed her doctoral project at Overlake Medical Center. She also served as Washington State Hospital Association’s assistant director for maternal-infant health initiatives before joining the Delivery Decisions Initiative team at Ariadne Labs in 2018.

The project’s success will be evaluated by the C-section rate among low-risk, first-time mothers who are good candidates for vaginal births; the utilization rate of decision tools, labor huddles and the planning board; and patient experience survey data collected throughout the duration of the study.  

For more information about the Delivery Decisions Initiative and the Team Birth Project, please visit www.ariadnelabs.org. 

Learn more about Overlake Medical Center’s Childbirth Center at overlakehospital.org/center/childbirth-center and EvergreenHealth’s Family Maternity Center at evergreenhealth.com/family-maternity-center.

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