posted on Nov. 15: New maternity centre offers innovative prenatal care, in-hospital birthing experiences for Hamilton families


John Kelton, dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, officially opened the new Maternity Centre of Hamilton recently.

The centre is a partnership between the Faculty, the City of Hamilton's social & public health services department, Community Midwives of Hamilton, Hamilton Health Sciences, the Hamilton Midwives, and St. Joseph's Healthcare.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care provided $1-million in funding for the two-year pilot project.

In Canada, family practice obstetrics has been declining rapidly. The decline in intrapartum care is even more dramatic in Hamilton, where the number of family physicians doing deliveries continues towards a crisis situation.

In 2000, 36 family physicians were delivering babies and the number is expected to decline further in 2001.

In response to this crisis, the maternity centre will provide primary maternity care using a collaborative multidisciplinary team approach, including family physicians, midwives, a nurse practitioner, dietitian, lactation consultant, public health nurse and social worker.

“This is another example of the innovation for which McMaster is recognized,” said Kelton.

“This approach will provide all the elements of maternity care together. It is this flexibility of the model that I believe is so unique. McMaster is a leader in evidence-based care and this centre will be an environment that encourages learning opportunities for family doctors, students and other specialists.”

The comprehensive community consultation process facilitated by Debbie Sheehan, the maternity centre's program manager, has ensured that the model of care is responsive to the needs of pregnant women and their partners.

Centre director David Price is confident that this model of care will have positive health outcomes for mothers and babies.

In addition, Price and Sheehan expect that this innovative model of care will contribute to the recruitment and retention of health professionals in various disciplines who will provide maternity care.

“This centre will provide a supportive environment for encouraging family physicians and midwives to continue to deliver first class obstetrical care working in a co-operative environment with the additional support of other health-care professionals,” said Price.

Sheehan added, “The nurse practitioner is integral to this innovative model, seeing women both pre and postnatally.”

In the first seven weeks of service the centre had 52 referrals and 10 babies were delivered. The goal is to provide care to 630 women annually.