Ob/Gyn Specialty Care Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center is first and only comprehensive service program in D.C. for birthing patients and their families

Ob/Gyn Specialty Care Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center is First and Only Comprehensive Service Program in D.C. for Birthing Patients and Their Families

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WASHINGTON — The newly opened Ob/Gyn Specialty Care Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center brings to birthing individuals, babies, and their families the first and only comprehensive maternal-infant program in the District of Columbia that provides a full scope of services from healthcare to legal, behavioral health, and social services, in one location. The mission of the Ob/Gyn Specialty Care Center is to bring sustainable, healthy change to families in the District, where the maternal-infant mortality rate is poor.

“Through our work at MedStar Health, with the D.C. Safe Babies Safe Moms initiative, we are working to create positive, long-lasting change in maternal and infant health,” said Tamika Auguste, MD, chair, Women’s and Infants’ Services at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “We need to address the maternal mortality conditions and concern around infant care. The new center is a physical representation of the changes we want to make to improve outcomes and wellbeing for birthing people and their babies in Washington, D.C.”

The new space is an important milestone of the D.C. Safe Babies Safe Moms Initiative at MedStar Health, made possible through philanthropic support of the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, in partnership with Community of Hope and Mamatoto Village. In addition, the Martha & Philip Sagon Family Foundation, the Andrew and Julie Klingenstein Family Fund, Katherine Bradley and the CityBridge Foundation, the Nussdorf Family Foundation, and Scott Tominovich, supported D.C Safe Babies Safe Moms and the development of the Ob/Gyn Specialty Care Center.

The 2,850-square-foot space features six exam rooms, one nurse navigator room, two meeting rooms for patients to consult with social workers and nurse educators, and space for prenatal and postpartum support groups and group-based care. Evidence has shown that group-based prenatal care can help address disparities, cut through provider bias, and create a more open and inclusive environment for patients to raise concerns, ask important questions, and lean on their peers who share similar cultural and community ties.

“The new space will help us break down barriers, strengthen relationships between patients and providers, and support our work to connect patients with critical resources in their communities,” said Loral Patchen, PhD, CNM, director of the Ob/Gyn Specialty Care Center and vice chair of Innovation and Community Outreach at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “We start by asking patients about their lives, their housing, their relationships, and their lifestyle. This helps build trust and allows us to better understand what other support, beyond traditional medical care, could really help them.”

Those support services include providing baby supplies, meal kits, work training, and access to legal services. MedStar Health has partnered with the Georgetown University Health Justice Alliance for Perinatal Law, which is one of few medical-legal partnerships focused on perinatal experience. The medical-legal partnership offers patients a range of supportive services, such as housing, family law, employment, and public food benefits. It also helps patients with tenant rights and custody and child support needs.

Behavioral health services have historically been difficult to access for vulnerable communities. Now, patients have access to mental health care during prenatal and postpartum appointments at the Ob/Gyn Specialty Care Center.

“It is not that we are just treating patients for blood pressure. We are treating them as a whole person. Our goal is to break down barriers and provide equal and appropriate care, so that all parents and babies can have a healthy life today and tomorrow,” added Dr. Patchen.

MedStar Washington Hospital Center currently serves approximately 3,600 birthing individuals per year, including some of the District’s most vulnerable families.

Visit MedStarHealth.org/SupportOBGYN to learn more about the Ob/Gyn Specialty Care Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.