Baby Steps

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Working together, the medical teams in the two-hospital system at University Health inspire a sense of confidence, a sense of compassion, and a sense of community.

Story by Ann Butenas   |   Sponsored Content | Intro photo courtesy of University Health

If you have ever wondered about the significance behind University Health, perhaps its vision speaks loudest: leading the way to a healthy community.  That is accomplished through very strategic planning, specific partnerships, and experienced people who help lead the charge in very thorough, thoughtful, and inspiring ways.

An academic medical center that provides quality healthcare to the metro area and beyond, regardless of insurance status, University Health is a two-hospital system serving all residents of Kansas City, MO, and Jackson County. Its doctors, in affiliation with the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, teach, guide, and inspire the doctors of the future. This is further enhanced by staying ahead of medical advances, giving cutting-edge care to patients, and providing the utmost innovative education to the medical students. Because it is an academic medical center, University Health has the ability and capacity to handle some of the most complex healthcare cases. Academic medical centers combine education, research, and clinical care to provide the optimum in clinical care with advanced technology and expertise for all patients.

In fact, the organization recently rebranded itself assuming the name University Health to showcase their partnership with the UMKC schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and dentistry and to recognize the huge advantage that partnership brings to our patients. Among the beneficiaries of that partnership include the two acute-care hospitals that are part of University Health: University Health Truman Medical Center (UHTMC) in downtown Kansas City and University Health Lakewood Medical Center (UHLMC) in eastern Kansas City.

An integral part of this hospital system is the University Health Birthing Centers, both located in Kansas City, Missouri, and which together delivered nearly 3,200 babies in 2021.

“The two birthplaces offer distinctly different approaches to delivery, but the common thread is a culture of caring and patient focus in a safe environment,” stated Amy Peters, RN, MBA, Chief Nursing Officer at University Health. “We work hard at building that connection to patients so that a new family leaves with great memories of their experience here.”


PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY HEALTH


And Speaking of Connections… The Bridge of Hope: 63 Steps to Peace of Mind When Seconds Count

Each University Health hospital has a connection to Children’s Mercy Hospital (CMH). In fact, an added benefit for the moms who deliver at UHTMC is the connection the hospital has to Children’s Mercy Hospital. Crossing a footbridge called the Bridge of Hope that connects both hospitals, it takes just 63 steps from UH’s Level III NICU to Children’s Mercy’s Hospital Level IV NICU should mother or baby need it. This is where the highest level of care can be found for premature and critically ill newborns. When every second matters, this bridge creates seamless access to critical care at a time when it is urgently needed. University Health is the only hospital in the metro area that has this physical connection.

Personalized case management services help support expectant moms who are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy. This involves maternal expertise for the mom, fetal expertise for the unborn baby, and pediatric expertise for the newborn child.

Having a baby at one of the most advanced maternity care hospitals in Kansas City is literally music to one’s ears. In fact, each time a baby is born, a lullaby plays throughout the hospital, signifying new life brought into the world and the hope that comes with such a wondrous event. The beauty of having a baby at University Health Women’s Care The Birthplace or at University Health Lakewood Family Birthplace means you are in the right place for the highest level of care should you or your baby ever require it.


Discover Kansas City’s Most Advanced Maternity Care at University Health 

University Health Women’s Care – The Birthplace

2301 Holmes St, Main Hospital, 6th Floor, Kansas City, Missouri 64108

www.universityhealthkc.org

 

Giving babies the best start in life is what UHTMC is all about. With its newly renovated and expanded traditional Labor and Delivery wing, every mom has her own private suite with a host of luxurious and spa-like amenities, including en suite bathrooms with relaxing rainfall showerheads. The new birthing center includes 10 labor and delivery rooms, 34 post-partum suites, and 2 dedicated operating rooms for C-sections. Wireless fetal monitor telemetry is also incorporated into this ensemble.

 

Devika Maulik, MD and staff
PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY HEALTH

The Birthplace is more than just a facility; it is also an experience, delivering superior care at all levels by some of the most experienced and skilled practitioners in the city who are experts in assisting with both normal and high-risk pregnancies. University Health is also a regional referral center for high-risk pregnancies and delivers many twins and triplets.

University Health shines as Kansas City’s most advanced maternity care, delivering half of the babies born in Kansas City, MO, each year. Translation? This team of medical experts has the experience to handle everything from the routine to the complex.

UHTMC – Devika Maulik, MD – Having a baby is an exciting time, but it can also come with its challenges.

Devika Maulik, MD

Well-trained in some of the most prestigious academic settings, Dr. Maulik attended medical school at Cornell Medical School, followed by a Fellowship at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. From there she completed her residency at the University of California, Los Angeles, and subsequently completed her internship at New York Presbyterian Hospital.  But her ambitions did not stop there.

With a sub-specialty in Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM), Dr. Maulik is a specialist in high-risk pregnancies. This is an area of practice that requires additional training above and beyond the residency and training completed to become an OBGYN.

“To obtain an MFM, you have to complete three additional years of study within this subspeciality,” indicated Dr. Maulik, who is dual Board Certified by the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology in OB/GYN and MFM. Her father actually started the MFM Department here, so Dr. Maulik returned home to continue the legacy of this family business with a strong commitment to service.

“We have a wonderful team of physicians and experienced academic doctors here, all of whom keep up-to-date on best practices,” emphasized Dr. Maulik. “Because of that, moms get great care from the team. When treated in a teaching hospital like ours, patients realize better outcomes.”


Inside the Bridge of Hope
PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY HEALTH

The nursing staff is an equally integral part of this well-oiled machine. Because they are experienced in taking care of high-risk pregnancies, the nurses are more in tune to any complaints that might arise, and they can therefore tailor their care for those specific pregnancies as needed.

In addition to the experienced clinicians, patients receive support through state-of-the-art technology and the specialists who work in this realm.

“With maternal-fetal medicine, technicians complete rigorous training in ultrasound, developing their skills to a very high level,” said Dr. Maulik. “They are an integral part of prenatal care, making sure everything looks anatomically correct. We also have a state-of-the-art ultrasound suite here and are recognized as one of the best places to get a pre-natal scan.”

Dr. Maulik further emphasized that the neonatology team at Children’s Mercy Hospital has a long-standing relationship with them, making University Health Truman Medical Center the best place to deliver a baby if a patient needs such specialized services.

“The neonatologists and the MFM doctors work between the two hospitals, and some of our specialists practice at Children’s Mercy, so there is a lot of cross-talk between the two teams,” explained Dr. Maulik.

Also included among the hospital’s expert diagnostic services are first-trimester screening, cell-free fetal DNA screening, fetal echocardiography, amniocentesis, evaluation, and management of pregnancies complicated by medical conditions, and pre-conceptual counseling.


UHTMC – Megan Madrigal, MD – The right touch at the right time.

Megan Madrigal, MD

“I think anyone wants a hospital dedicated to patient care, that shows concern for the needs, wants, and desires of the patients,” expressed Dr. Madrigal. “And as an academic hospital, we are in a unique position to stay up-to-date on technology, research, and new patient care guidelines.” Dr. Madrigal praises the nursing staff for its team-based approach to each patient’s care.

“Each laboring patient has her own labor and delivery nurse,” she indicated. “We also have a separate NICU team, too. University Health has a Level III NICU, and

PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY HEALTH

Children’s Mercy Hospital has a Level IV NICU and a team of nurses.  For any delivery, a labor and delivery nurse, a NICU nurse, and a bedside nurse tend to the patient as a collaborative effort. This gives the mom peace of mind and an extra layer of support just in case such care is needed.  Each patient has full NICU support from both hospitals.”

Dr. Madrigal also indicated the hospital will triage patients to handle problems even during pregnancy, much like an emergency room visit.

“When you come in for a labor evaluation and are in labor and stay for delivery, you have a nurse assigned to you, as well as a team of doctors to oversee your care for delivery,” said Dr. Madrigal. “There is a support system available through everything, which is important throughout the pregnancy, through delivery, and during the post-partum stage.”

The medical experts at University Health understand that so much goes into getting pregnant, being pregnant, and becoming a parent. As such, they realize how important a support system is for patients and their families.


New Suite at UHTMC – PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY HEALTH


PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY HEALTH

NICU Patient Story #1 – A Premature Birth.

When Antionette gave birth to her son, who arrived prematurely and weighed just 1 pound, 6 ounces, she was grateful for the immediate care in the NICU her son received and the more specialized care he received at CMH in its Level IV NICU, the highest level of care in the region.

“It was like a breath of fresh air for me,” she reflected. “It was always my goal to have my baby here. I was born here, and I was going to have my baby here. My whole team came in and helped with anything I wanted. They were always right there for me.”

 

NICU Patient Story #2 – Complications with Twins.

Mary had a complicated pregnancy expecting twins who were deemed high risk because they shared the same amniotic sac and placenta. Worried, Mary searched for the best high-risk care facility which led her to University Health.

“I did my research and felt they had the best NICU,” she recalled.

Mary delivered two strong and healthy baby girls and feels blessed they are alive and healthy. In addition to her twins, she now has friendships she formed with her caretakers.

“I became close to the nurses in triage and in ultrasound,” she smiled. “They took really good care of me.” Dr. Maulik added, “We are your team – all a mother’s team. We take great pride in healthy pregnancies and deliveries.”

University Health cares for up to 700 babies in the NICU each year.


University Health Women’s Care Lakewood Family Birthplace 

PHOTO COURTESY OF LAKEWOOD FAMILY BIRTHPLACE

7900 Lee’s Summit Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64139

www.universityhealthkc.org

 

 

The University Health Lakewood Family Birthplace opened in November 2011 offering true LDRP (labor, delivery, recovery, and post-partum) care. In the past 10 years, 15,000+ babies have been delivered here. In this setting, moms deliver and stay in the same room throughout their stay. The Level II NICU here is in partnership with CMH.

The 19,290 square foot facility features 19 private rooms. New families can stay in the same room throughout their stay. New moms can choose the traditional delivery bed during their stay or opt for a queen-sized Murphy bed if they desire the familiarity and comfort of home.

The Birthplace also has two dedicated operating rooms for C-sections, a four-bed private triage area for early stages of labor, and a five-bed Level II NICU supported by a partnership with CMH. Moms even have access to a jetted tub for early labor.


Laney Abraham, BSN, RN – Director of Perinatal Services

Laney Abraham, BSN, RNPHOTO BY MATT KOCOUREK

Abraham came to UHLMC Family Birthplace after graduating from nursing school in 2010 with the goal of working in women’s health and delivering babies. In the 12 years since, she has worked as a labor nurse, a resources nurse, and a Clinical Team Manager. When the Director of Perinatal Services role became available, she knew that was the next transition to make.

“I loved being bedside, but I am so grateful to be able to serve the women of Kansas City in a different capacity and have the opportunity to make an impact on their lives on a different level,” indicated Abraham.

Abraham gives a strong nod to the focus on patient and family care at UHLMC, which she believes is what sets this hospital apart from others. “Nurses and physicians take the time to educate patients and empower them to ask questions and help them make informed decisions about their care,” she emphasized.

“The staff care about each other and work incredibly well as a team and the patients can feel that. Quality and safety are of utmost importance to the team, and you can see that in our outcomes and in the care we give. Women come back here to have their babies, they remember their nurses’ names and the unforgettable experience of bringing a life into the world. They expect great care and that’s what we give them.” Abraham also stressed the importance of giving patients options with respect to the providers they see.

“We have midwives, obstetricians, and family medicine doctors that deliver here with us, which gives the patients the unique opportunity to find someone they really connect with, which is so important,” she reflected.



The Midwifery Difference at Lakewood Family Birthplace

Victoria Rinck, RN, CNM and Aja Greer, RN, CNM
PHOTO BY MATT KOCOUREK

University Health has offered patients a choice of certified midwives for more than 15 years. The service of providing these specialists is a true distinction for UHLMC. This is not something universally available in many hospitals.

UHLMC has offered access to the services of a certified nurse midwife since 2001. This is an optional choice for patients who desire a more natural birthing experience while still having access to medical specialists should an immediate and unexpected need arise. Choosing to have a midwife is considered a “low intervention” birth choice.

Midwives deliver roughly 10% of the total babies at UH Lakewood Family Birthplace. Many patients drive an appreciable distance to have access to a Nurse Midwife. Why? Because Nurse Midwives are associated with comprehensive patient education and high levels of emotional support to their patients.

Two outstanding nurse midwives at UHLMC are Victoria Rinck, RN, CNM, and Aja Greer, RN, CNM, both of whom only deliver at UH Lakewood Family Birthplace.

“I always say that when you choose a midwife for your provider, you get a doctor in your back pocket,” expressed Victoria Rinck. “We have absolutely phenomenal physicians that we work with closely throughout your pregnancy. We discuss any medical complications that the patients might have to seek their guidance in these situations if needed. Sometimes, our patients need to have a cesarean section delivery, and we continue to help take care of them by assisting the physicians in surgery.”

 


The advantages to a patient of having a midwife are many.

Aja Greer, RN, CNM

“When a patient decides to choose a midwife for their provider, they receive comprehensive care that helps support and empower them through both their pregnancy and through their delivery,” noted Aja Greer. “We help them learn about their bodies and the changes that they will experience and how to

PHOTO COURTESY OF LAKEWOOD FAMILY BIRTHPLACE

handle them. We are both former labor and delivery nurses, so we know how to be with someone during their labor, cheering them on and helping them draw on the strength they need to meet their baby, whether they have an unmedicated birth, an epidural, or a c-section.”

UH Lakewood Family Birthplace holds many distinct advantages for these providers and their patients.

“Lakewood is such a wonderful place to have a baby,” smiled Rinck. “The nurses are extremely helpful and friendly. We are able to provide care in the same room from the moment you are admitted to the moment you go home. You get to sleep in a full-size bed after delivery with your partner. I find a lot of families really enjoy this aspect because they usually sleep at home with their partner, and they are able to get that same level of comfort here. We also have fantastic doctors who oversee and guide us through difficult situations.”

 


PHOTO COURTESY OF LAKEWOOD FAMILY BIRTHPLACE

 

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