Family and Patient Centered Care Builds Trusting Relationships

What does family and patient centered care mean? We consider you a partner in care which means we want to hear from you, tell us about yourself and what is important to you. The nurse-patient relationship is the foundation of excellent care for achieving quality outcomes. We believe your involvement increases confidence in care and positively impacts the relationship with care providers.

Overlake is committed to providing patient centered care with our focus on our relationship with the patient and family. If you are anticipating having your baby at Overlake, you can expect to receive personalized care in a variety of ways.

    • An important first step is going over your “plan of care” and answering any questions you might have.
    • Next, you can expect a bedside report so that at change of shift you can expect to be included in the report and hand off of your care at the bedside.
    • Another personal touch is the white board in each room, a communication tool that is updated with your preferences.

We will work with you during your stay. Our partnership includes caring for you and your precious baby. We understand family and friends are important. There are no visitor restrictions unless requested by you.

The benefits to our patient centered care include: higher quality care, greater patient satisfaction, and a relationship of trust between patient and nurses. It is an honor and a privilege to care for new mothers, babies and the whole family.

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Going Home from the NICU

In the past few weeks, Overlake’s NICU has cared for many babies who were then discharged to go home with their families. Both experiences—arriving in and then leaving the NICU—can be challenging for families. During their stay here, I believe babies and families receive excellent, comprehensive care. I know the nurses, and all of us who work in the NICU, place an emphasis on teaching families ways to care for their premature babies. But, it rarely fails that when the day to go home arrives, parents report feeling very anxious. This is not surprising; after all, they are accustomed to checking the monitors, having a nurse nearby if they have concerns or questions, and depending on the safety net provided by the NICU.

One of the ways I work with families is to help them to focus on how much, since birth, their baby has grown, developed and matured. I reinforce that they likely have spent many hours here, holding and loving their baby, doing skin-to-skin care, learning to feed and care for him/her, and learning to read many of their baby’s ways to communicate. Parents know their babies better than any of us; I encourage families to trust themselves and to remember that children thrive at home.

One resource I recommend for families is the Community Health Nurse program. These nurses, located in all counties of Washington state, are employed by each county’s public health department. This very helpful service is designed especially to provide support in the home for babies who have been in the NICU. A registered nurse who is specially trained in the care, needs and development of preemies, (along with other children who need care in the NICU), can make home visits by appointment. The nurse can weigh and measure the baby on a regular basis, follow his/her development, and offer other community services and resources as needed. There is no fee for this program. (On a personal note, the community health nurse was very helpful to my daughter when she went home with a premature baby.)

If you are eligible for this helpful program, I hope you will consider it. They provide comprehensive, trustworthy care for our NICU graduates.



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Labor Nurse Wins Daisy Award

We hear from patients all the time. Mothers and fathers write to tell us about their time in our Childbirth Center, and we love knowing what wonderful experiences they have. Quite often, we hear about the special bond that mothers form with their labor nurse. That is no surprise, as our labor nurses are experienced, attentive and enthusiastic about partnering with moms to have healthy, safe deliveries.

So it was no surprise when one of our amazing labor nurses, Leslie, received the nationally recognized Daisy Award to honor her skills and compassion. To receive this award, a nurse must be nominated by their patient. This patient’s story made us especially proud. Leslie’s perseverance and dedication to honor her patient’s birth goals resulted in a very happy and healthy mother, father and baby.

Here is what the patient wrote about Leslie:

“Leslie was my nurse who started her shift right as I was starting to deliver my daughter. My doctor paid me a visit soon as Leslie came in and proceeded to give me worst case scenarios with my delivery, leading me to believe that she was pretty convinced I would have a C-section.

“When my doctor left, we asked Leslie if she felt I could do this vaginally. She made no promises but definitely felt it was possible and said she would do what she could to make it possible. She held to this promise, as she never left my side and did anything I asked of her. She cheered me on when I thought I couldn’t push anymore. She calmed my husband’s fears as the blood became more than he anticipated. She also made me feel like such a champion when I delivered my daughter in just over an hour as a first time mom.

“In the end, she was our angel that day and just the person we needed at the most beautiful and stressful time in our life.”

Congratulations, Leslie!

To learn more about the Daisy Award, or to nominate one of your nurses, visit the Daisy Foundation or pick up a brochure in our lobby.

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Pregnancy Doesn’t Last Forever – Five Tips for Getting Through the Final Week

For the majority of women who have the opportunity to be pregnant, those nine months are anything but what we thought they would be; there may be a lot more bodily and emotional discomforts than you thought possible. The good news is – you’re almost to the end! I know it sounds impossible now, but when you finally have your baby in your arms, you may even miss these days.

The wait is worth it. Pictured: The author holding her third son, born at 40 weeks.

A common question that comes up in the clinic is: “How can I possibly make it to my due date? I’m so uncomfortable!” Making it to at least 39 weeks is the best thing for your baby and we want to help you get there. Here are some tips for getting through the final week (and actually enjoying your last moments of pregnancy, too):

  1. Go on a date with your partner – All you may want to do right now is lie on the couch in your most comfortable pants. But a nice dinner or movie out on the town may be just the thing you need to keep your mind away from timing irregular contractions and surfing Google for “signs of labor.”
  2. Get a massage – Prenatal massage may be the world’s greatest uncovered secret. It helps with ligament and joint pain in your hips, reduces stress, improves blood and lymph circulation and improves sleep; all of which are very beneficial, especially during the last weeks. And, many insurance companies cover massage during pregnancy. Check it out!
  3. Take a warm bath – Warm water is very relaxing and may help alleviate the discomfort of early labor contractions or just help with everyday aches and pains. Just remember to keep water under 100 degrees Fahrenheit so you don’t overheat.
  4. Take a nap – In the last weeks of pregnancy getting a full night of sleep is almost impossible, so taking a 30 to 60 minute nap may help improve your energy to make it through the day. A good rest can also help with endurance during labor. Labor is a lot of work, and you will need energy!
  5. Write a letter to your baby – Take a few moments to share everything with your baby that you are experiencing right now: the good and the not-so-good, too. You will never have this opportunity again with this child. And in a year, when it’s so hard to remember these days, you will have a special memento to look back on and cherish forever.

We are always here for you to call and ask questions. Good luck; you are almost to the “finish line!”

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Happy holidays from all of us to all of you!


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NICU Families Pay it Forward

Working in a Childbirth Center, and particularly in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, I get to witness miracles daily. But I am still moved by the gestures of support and love that our families show for one another year after year. Here’s an especially cool one.

On December 1, three-year-old twins Jensen and Wyatt, along with their mother, returned to the NICU to give out books to our current patients. It was a gesture the family remembered receiving while they were patients here three years ago. The boys’ mom wanted to return that favor as part of the boys’ birthday celebration. It was wonderful seeing the twins and how great they are doing!

Then, two weeks later, another graduate came by with books for our current patients. This time, it was one-year-old Alexander E. When he was a patient here last year, he too received books from a family who had graduated out of the NICU. And, like Jensen and Wyatt’s family, Alexander’s felt moved to repeat the gesture on Alexander’s birthday.

Well, who should show up the very next day? Fourteen-year-old NICU graduate Harrison K. and his mom. They arrived, as you probably guessed, with books for our NICU patients.  Harrison’s family has been bringing books to NICU families for years. It was, in fact, Harrison who brought books to the twins and to Alexander originally, and who inspired those families to keep up this very special tradition. This is truly the spirit of “Paying it Forward!”

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The Baby Bath Can Wait

There are many articles and opinions online about when a newborn’s first bath should be, and why we should leave newborns’ vernix on their skin. Vernix is the whitish, waxy substance on newborn skin. It has many protective benefits, and research studies continue to reveal more about its special properties.

If you are already aware of the reasons to delay baby’s first bath, you will be relieved to know that Overlake agrees. We’ve analyzed the studies, too. When babies are born here, we dry them and then make sure they get right down to the very important business of snuggling and bonding with mom.

And for those who haven’t heard this before, here are our top 5 reasons to delay baby’s first bath:

1. More uninterrupted bonding time with mom during those important first hours
Newborn babies want to be as close to mom and mom’s breasts as possible. Being skin-to-skin with mom, where he can hear, smell and feel her, is an important source of comfort for new little ones, and releases important recovery hormones in mom.

2. Baby stays warm
Brand new babies have to figure out how to maintain their own body temperature. It takes a little practice. Mom’s chest is the perfect place to keep baby’s temperature level. An amazing fact is that mom’s chest will heat up or cool down to help baby stay at just the right temperature.

3. Baby’s blood sugar stays stable
Stress can affect a baby’s blood sugar – another system that he is just learning to keep level. By minimizing potential stressful events and keeping baby close to mom, he is better able to regulate all of his body systems and maintain his blood sugar where it should be.

4. Baby starts breastfeeding more easily
By now, you can probably guess why this is. It’s because of being able to spend more time skin-to-skin with mom, of course. The first hour after birth is sometimes called the “golden hour.” The fewer interruptions of mom and baby’s bonding and snuggling during the golden hour, the better.

5. The vernix helps prevent infections and form immunity
Recent research shows that vernix has immune properties. By leaving it on baby’s skin, she has a layer of protection while her immune system is building. That layer is also an excellent moisturizer, keeping baby’s skin soft and supple.

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Top Four Ways to Survive the First Weeks after Baby Comes Home

The nursery is decorated with coordinating colors and fabrics, miniature clothes hang in what now appears to be an oversize closet and an overflow of recommended supplies are at the ready. Parents eagerly anticipate the birth of their child, and now this precious baby has appeared on the scene. Even with all of the classes attended, books read and purchases made, many new parents find themselves feeling overwhelmingly underprepared for the first few weeks after delivery.

The Overlake Mom & Baby Care Center is here to assist new families navigate these weeks and months after delivery. Our top four tips for easing the first few weeks after baby comes are:

1. Accept the help you’re offered and ask for more. This is the time to call in any and all favors. Whether it is housecleaning, errands, watching siblings or bringing meals, don’t refuse assistance. Sleep deprivation tends to cloud judgment, and though you may think you can “do it all,” you don’t need to.

2. Rest. The laundry can wait, housekeeping can wait, thank-you notes can wait. What you need is to rest. Rest is required for you to recover both physically and emotionally. We’ve all heard “sleep when the baby sleeps.” As hard as it is to actually do that, it will really help you in the middle of the night when baby decides it is play time. This often requires limiting visitors unless they are offering help, which can be difficult but necessary.

3. Have your supplies ready. You have prepared for your baby, but have you prepared for yourself?

• Feminine pads are a must. You will continue to bleed for some time after baby is born, and tampons are not allowed.

• Use witch-hazel pads to relieve pain and swelling.

• Stock up on nursing pads, at least two comfort bras, nipple cream and a “My Brest Friend” nursing pillow.

• Visit the Mom & Baby Care Center boutique for all of these items, bra fittings, advice and more.

4. Ask a professional for advice. At the Mom & Baby Care Center, we offer professional lactation assistance for as long as it is needed so that you can meet your goals for breastfeeding your baby. Our RN International Board Certified Lactation Consultant staff is ready to work alongside you as you gain confidence and skills breastfeeding.

When you deliver your baby at Overlake Medical Center, a postpartum appointment is scheduled for both you and baby before you leave the hospital. This very comprehensive appointment is part of the service provided to you at Overlake, at no additional cost.

Becoming a parent can be equally exciting and overwhelming. Our hope is that we can assist you through the challenges and share in your excitement. To make an appointment, find out about classes or support groups, call the Overlake Mom & Baby Care Center at 425.688.5389.

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How to Protect Your Family This Flu Season

It’s that time of year again. Yes, pumpkin spice latte season! And, on a more serious note, it is also flu season. Flu (Influenza) is a contagious virus that infects thousands of people each year.  If you are pregnant or have recently given birth, you’ll want to pay attention to the flu. Flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant and postpartum women; and children under 5 are particularly susceptible to medical complications from it.

A flu shot is your best protection 

• Women can get a flu shot any time during pregnancy or after birth, even if they’re breastfeeding.
• The flu shot has been safely given to millions of pregnant women over many years. However, pregnant women should not receive the nasal spray vaccine.
• Getting a flu shot during pregnancy helps protect babies for up to six months after birth – the time when babies cannot get vaccinated against flu and are particularly vulnerable.

What about the options for newborns?

Influenza vaccines are not recommended for anyone under 6 months of age. The best way to keep your youngest family member safe is for the rest of the family to get vaccinated.

• All caregivers and household members of pregnant or postpartum women and newborns should get vaccinated. It will help protect the pregnant mother and the new infant once baby is born.

Antiviral medication can treat the flu

• Prompt treatment with antiviral medication is important. If a pregnant or postpartum woman gets sick with flu-like symptoms, she should call her doctor right away. Early treatment can lessen symptoms. Antiviral treatment can be started even before influenza is confirmed.

Want more info?

The Department of Health has developed a bilingual Frequently Asked Questions about Flu Vaccine and Pregnancy page that addresses common concerns and inquiries. For additional flu information, visit the Department of Health or CDC websites.

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Overlake Nurse Wins March of Dimes Award

Congratulations to Margie Bridges, MN, ARNP, RNC-OB – our very own perinatal clinical nurse specialist – who won Education Nurse of the Year at the 2015 Washington March of Dimes Award Ceremony.

“She is always trying to improve the care and the experience of her patients, as well as improving the understanding and skill levels of all nurses, providers and nursing-related professionals,” said those who nominated Margie for the award. “She not only walks the walk and talks the talk, she lives, eats and breathes nursing education.”

Way to go, Margie!  Your dedication, grace and perseverance is an inspiration to us all.

We also applaud our other Overlake colleagues who were nominated for a March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award:

  • Jessica Finch, RN, BSN, CCRN, Critical Care Unit – nominated for Front Line Leader
  • Elizabeth Hildreth, RN, MSN, patient advocate – nominated for Advocacy of Patients
  • Linda Iraola, RN, CCU, CCRN, Critical Care Unit – nominated for Critical Care Nurse
  • Jamilie Kheriaty, RN, Mother Baby Unit – nominated for Advocacy for Patients
  • Kathryn Ordon, BSN, RN, South 4 – nominated for Rising Star
  • Sandy Salmon, RN, MSN, IBCLC, Mother Baby Unit – nominated for Education
  • Alyson Willard, BSN, RN, C-EFM, Labor & Delivery Unit – nominated for Front Line Leader

Congratulations to everyone for your enduring dedication!


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