Laborists Offer Around-the-Clock Care for New Moms
What a difference a day makes – especially on the hospital labor and delivery floor. As the clock slowly spins through 24 hours, parents are welcoming their newest precious family member.
Laborists in the Women’s Center at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center are OB-GYN specialists who take a 24-hour shift in the hospital to cover everything from checking on women who are in labor, to delivering babies, to performing C-sections (both planned and non-planned) to caring for women who have recently delivered.
“I come to my shift with an open mind, prepared for anything to happen,” said Catherine Brockmeier, DO, who works three 24-hour laborist shifts each month, taking turns with her partners at Avera Medical Group Obstetrics & Gynecology in Sioux Falls. “Things can change on a whim by 100 percent. You might just have a couple labors and all the sudden you’re maxed out. Some days I’m delivering two or three babies, while other days, 10 to 12.”
The on-shift physician cares for all patients of Avera Medical Group Obstetrics & Gynecology in Sioux Falls who are currently in the hospital as well as new admissions during the shift.
This concept has several benefits. For clinic patients, there’s less chance that their scheduled appointment will be cancelled or delayed while the provider rushes to the hospital to deliver a baby. For providers, it means they can get a full night’s rest after a busy day in the clinic.
For patients at the hospital, it offers continuity of care and an added measure of safety. “If I have been caring for a patient for 12 hours, I know everything that’s happening with her labor,” Brockmeier said.
Laborists are also on hand to act as consultants to physicians from other practices who are delivering babies at Avera McKennan. This includes stepping in to perform an unscheduled C-section if needed during a vaginal delivery, or providing OB-GYN expertise if complications arise.
Patients are informed early on of the laborist concept, and that they may not have their regular provider for the actual delivery – unless the onset of labor happens to coincide with their doctor’s 24-hour shift.
“If patients feel uneasy, I always tell them, ‘I know your doctor and how she would take care of you, and I’m going to do things the same way,’” Brockmeier said.
Brockmeier was the laborist on duty when Pam and Ben Harvey’s twins were born in January 2018.
“We were prepped ahead of time that it might be possible that we’d have a different doctor for our delivery,” Pam says. “We were scheduled for an induction but went in on our own at 40 weeks.”
The first time they met Brockmeier was in the hospital room. “She was wonderful and sweet and accommodating as she walked us through it. It was an awesome experience,” Pam said. “They are all fantastic doctors. We had a birth plan but we were willing to go with whatever happened. It seemed like they had already relayed to the laborist all the information that was important at the time.”
The Harveys had been through the delivery experience before with their 6- and 2-year-old daughters. Yet this was the first experience with twins – a girl, Jordyn, and a boy, Jamin (a shortened version of Benjamin).
The last several months have been busy, but every day gets easier as the twins grow and develop. “You find a new normal,” Pam said. “I wouldn’t have changed a thing; everything was perfect, and we have the four greatest gifts of our lives.”
Being involved with these moments is also a gift to Brockmeier. “I’m a mom too so I know what it’s like to be the patient. I fell in love with the OB-GYN specialty in medical school. I love to take care of women, and often get to take care of them before a pregnancy, and then throughout the pregnancy, after delivery and for well-women exams. You develop a special bond with patients as you see them throughout their lifetime.”