In Good Hands
During a stay at the Hattersley Family Centered Maternity Unit at Paoli Hospital, expecting parents feel right at home
by Lindsey Getz

Although few things in life are more exciting than having a baby, the experience of giving birth can often bring about fear and anxiety for new parents.

At the Hattersley Family Centered Maternity Unit at Paoli Hospital, part of Main Line Health, patients quickly realize they are in very capable hands. Such reassurance enables them to focus on the joyful aspects of building a family.

With so many OB/GYN physicians practicing as part of groups, patients often choose the hospital at which they want to deliver instead of an individual doctor. Many of the Greater Philadelphia Area’s mothers-to-be purposely seek out physician groups that deliver at Paoli Hospital, having heard from friends and family that the hospital offers an outstanding level of care. The recently renovated Hattersley Family Centered Maternity Unit at Paoli has more than 15 OB/GYN physicians, a full range of maternal and infant care specialists and, if needed, a Level II NICU.

“We are a busy place, and we see a lot of patients,” says Suzanne K. Pugh, M.D., campus chief of the Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology at Paoli Hospital. “The benefit this affords the patient is that we are experienced doctors and nurses who have great skills. But it’s still a small community hospital where patients are treated like family. You really get the best of both worlds.”   

Dr. Pugh credits the nursing staff for fostering this strong sense of community.

“The physician may have several patients in labor simultaneously, but the nurses have one patient,” Dr. Pugh says. “Our nurses are wonderful advocates for the patients, and it’s no surprise our patients express that they felt very well taken care of by the nursing staff during their stay.”

The nurses at Paoli are unique in that they are trained to handle all situations—labor, post-partum mother-and-baby care, even work in the operating room with C-section patients. Instead of being passed from one nurse to another, patients experience a continuum of care from a single, highly qualified individual. This detail helps anxious parents feel at ease.

“OB nurses are compassionate people,” says Tina Saurman, nurse manager for the Hattersley Family Centered Maternity Unit at Paoli. “They are warm, caring, and nurturing, and they want to make the patient’s delivery a positive experience. They’re also the ones who are going to be with new parents as they learn to care for their newborn; from changing diapers to feeding the baby, they’re the ones that are helping new parents learn what to do.”

The Hattersley Family Centered Maternity Unit at Paoli has 74 nurses, 58 percent of whom have a specialty certification. Such certifications are earned through national testing in defined specialties, and those nurses who opt to pursue specialty certifications are demonstrating a desire to build their knowledge in a specialty that interests them.

“Obtaining those specialty certifications validates the nurses’ knowledge, ability and experience beyond their RN license,” says Saurman. “The maternity unit has the largest nursing staff in the hospital, and we are proud of how many of our nurses have obtained these specialty certifications.”

In addition to the nursing staff, Paoli also has four lactation consultants that cover seven days a week. Each lactation consultant at Paoli is an IBCLC® (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and is on call for a minimum of eight hours each day. This strong support for breastfeeding has helped give Paoli one of the highest breastfeeding initiation rates in the county—approximately 90 percent.

Main Line Health has been working with the Keystone 10 Initiative, which is aimed toward improving the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding for all Pennsylvania infants, mothers and families. Participating facilities focus on breastfeeding initiation, exclusive breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact and rooming in, among other elements. These are all areas of focus at Paoli.

“Immediate, uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact is one of the first initiatives we’re rolling out,” Saurman says. “As soon as the baby is born, we’re going to put the baby immediately on the mom’s chest, providing skin to skin.

“Our IBCLCs run two outpatient breastfeeding groups and provide a lot of education not only directly to patients but also to our nursing and medical staff, as well as our student nurses,” she continues. “They take every opportunity they can to educate and to make sure the patient’s breastfeeding questions can be answered.”

But beyond all of these large-scale initiatives, the hospital’s administration and staff believe even the smallest efforts go a long way toward making patients feel comfortable and at home during their hospital stay.

“Everyone on the staff is so incredibly friendly, from our staff member at the front desk who greets you when you come in to all of the doctors and nursing staff that interact with you,” Dr. Pugh says. “The staff here goes out of their way to make sure patients feel comfortable.”   

Even the food served through room service and some of the little “extras” leave patients feeling comforted and cared for. This month, the hospital is rolling out “cookies and milk” for patients after visitors have left for the day. Partners also receive one free meal while they are staying at the hospital and are offered free beverages from the cafeteria after the baby is born.

“These are small gestures, but they’re extra ways to show that we really do care that you chose Paoli,” says Saurman.

From the subtle touches to the big initiatives, the Hattersley Family Centered Maternity Unit at Paoli is continually setting itself apart from the pack. As a result, all parents—whether it’s a  first baby or a fifth—can expect to feel safe, comfortable and in good hands while receiving care at Paoli Hospital.

Main Line Health
Hattersley Family Centered Maternity Unit at Paoli Hospital
255 W. Lancaster Ave.
Paoli, PA 19301
866-CALL-MLH (866-225-5654)

Photograph by Jody Robinson