Written by Adele Thomason, RNC-OB, IBCLC, C-EFM
OB RN Clinical Care Coordinator
NorthLakes Community Clinic – Ashland Downtown and Iron River
Did you know NorthLakes Community Health Centers offer integrated prenatal care, using a patient-centered medical home model? And, what does that actually mean? I thought I’d take a few moments to break it down for you.
What is integrated prenatal care? And why does it matter to you? We all see these buzzwords thrown around, “integrated healthcare,” “medical home,” “patient-centered,” but they are not often explained, and even less often is it explained what this means to you. So, let’s break it down starting with “integrated prenatal care.” Prenatal refers to the medical care that is provided to you when you are pregnant (Pre=before, natal=birth). “Integrated healthcare” refers to different health specialties working together to address all of your healthcare needs. So, it stands to reason that “integrated prenatal care” just means that different specialized health professionals (for example: your doctor, your mental health therapist, your chiropractor, your physical therapist, your addiction doctor, your dentist, your lactation consultant, etc) are working together to meet all of your pregnancy needs. Integrated OB care is easier to do when many of your providers are under one roof, and all of your providers are working together. NorthLakes is unique in having most of these providers located under in one place.
Now, let’s move on to what “patient-centered” means. Patient centered means that you, the patient, work with all of your health care providers to meet your healthcare needs. Or put another way, your healthcare providers work with you to put together a plan to meet YOUR needs that takes into account what it is that you value, and what your goal is. They know that what you might need is not the same thing that your next-door neighbor needs, or what your 3rd cousin twice-removed needs. Your team cares about and for you, gets to know you, and as your needs change, so does your plan.
Finally, what exactly is a “medical home?” A medical home just means that your care is coordinated from one place. Your medical care team works together across organizations to make sure that you are getting the health care that you need, without judgment. You don’t have to see all of your healthcare providers in one building/town/health system (though when that’s possible, it does make it easier), but your healthcare team is committed to helping you figure out what happens next on your healthcare journey, and how to accomplish it.
The evidence shows that having health care during pregnancy results in better health outcomes for both parent and baby. NorthLakes Community Health Centers offer integrated prenatal care, using a patient-centered medical home mode, with most of the providers you might need under one roof. During your first prenatal visit, your provider will help you start figuring out your pregnancy plan. Our resource coordinators can help you get connected with health insurance, rides to appointments, even helping you figure out options for where to live (if you need help with that). When it feels overwhelming, the resource coordinators and community support folks can help you prioritize what to do next. Pregnancy can be a stressful time – we can connect you with a mental health counselor to help you figure out ways to deal with that stress. If you struggle with substance use issues, we have a program for that. All of your care coordination will be done in a non-judgmental way. The staff at NorthLakes Community Health Centers recognize your humanness, and help you to become your healthiest through your pregnancy and beyond.