South County Health Centennial: Obstetrical care at clinic drives consciousness on ladies’s fitness


Editor’s Note: Founded in 1919, this year marks the centesimal anniversary of South County Health. As a part of our community outreach efforts, The Independent has partnered with the corporation on a sequence of stories related to the history and venture of South County Health. They will run periodically in our newspapers this year and seem online.

WAKEFIELD, R.I. – In 1987, when an obstetrician left the Health Center of South County, that meant that South County women with Medicaid insurance should now not deliver at South County Hospital. “By that time, I had stopped doing obstetrics,” recalled Dr. Joseph O’Neill, the sanatorium’s first board-licensed obstetrician. Meanwhile, Dr. Robert Curhan and Dr. Martin Schwartz had taken on a third doctor, Dr. Kimberly Hay; however, they were squeezed via low reimbursements and excessive malpractice coverage – they have not accepted Medicaid sufferers.

The scenario, described by the press as a disaster, positioned the medical institution in the center among an upset network and medical doctors struggling to keep a solvent practice. The kingdom Health Department even became concerned. Director H. Denman Scott was quoted in the Narragansett Times as announcing, “The actual disgrace is the health center hasn’t stood up to these obstetricians.” He threatened a show cause, listening to tug the medical institution’s license.

The health facility, in truth, took some of the measures to remedy the deadlock, which included paying the malpractice insurance of two docs and beginning a health center in Narragansett in which Drs. Curhan and Schwartz had been born a salary through the health center to treat Medicaid patients. “The Health Department should holler all they need,” Dr. O’Neill mentioned. “The sanatorium couldn’t cut off their nostril to spite their face” by rescinding the obstetricians’ clinical team of workers’ privileges.


Ironically, all of the poor press would have a superb outcome. Board of Trustees member Benjamin Sturges wrote protection of the hospital that became posted within the Narragansett Times, which caught the eye of Dr. Kate Cassin, who became touring loved ones in Matunuck in the spring of 1988. A native of Providence who had graduated from Providence College and Brown Medical School, Dr. Cassin was operating as an obstetrician/gynecologist in Springfield, Mass.

She contacted the paper and requested them to connect her with Sturges. By September, she turned into the staff of the clinic as a worker of Curhan & Schwartz. That introduced the practice to four obstetricians, and they agreed to cover the Health Center of South County’s sufferers, resolving the trouble.

That also launched a 30-year profession for Dr. Cassin, who still practices gynecology at the health center’s Center for Women’s Health. She remained with Curhan & Schwartz for five years before opening her practice in 1993. After Dr. Schwartz left town to exercise in Massachusetts, she started a partnership with Dr. Jeffrey Joseph, who had been hired utilizing Curhan & Schwartz proper earlier than the exercise dissolved.

Dr. Curhan, in the meantime, stopped handing over toddlers and coupled up with Dr. Sheila Connery, whom Curhan & Schwartz had hired in 1992. Although she becomes the second woman to practice obstetrics in South County, Dr. Cassin said her gender turned into now not an issue. “I was satisfied, and I by no means felt that I turned into dealt with differently. I usually was given together with my colleagues,” she said.

There became anxiety that brought about her commencing her very own exercise, but it can have been generational. “It becomes an extraordinary time,” she said. “It becomes a time when older setup physicians had paid their dues and felt that younger humans developing had to pay their dues.”

By the time Dr. Cassin opened her practice, a shift in the clinic’s maternity care technique had taken place. The health facility is now handing over extra than 600 babies in 12 months and is committed to refurbishing the maternity ward.

In 1992, the health facility opened the primary of its all-in-one exertions, shipping, recuperation, and put up-partum care rooms (LDRPs, as they’re called). Within two years, the health facility had renovated eight rooms for this motive and seven rooms for gynecological surgical sufferers.

With convertible couches, rocking chairs, and private bathrooms, the LDRPs gave households the comforts of home in a scientific setting. Beth Johnson, RN, started working in the health facility in 1994. The exchange to LDRP rooms made a huge difference, she recalled. “We had more youthful practitioners who have been a good deal greater family-centered,” she said. “Family-focused manner we focus at the circle of relatives as an entire – we focus on the mother, the father, the toddler, and the siblings.”

This meant that the mom, now not the health facility or doctor, might determine who might be in with the mother in the course of and after transport. “When I first started practice at Women & Infants inside the past due seventies, fathers [in the delivery room] were a rarity,” Johnson recalled. “They had to visit instructions. They had to have signed permission slips … for them even to set foot in the delivery place.”

Dr. Cassin recalled that while the LDRPs had been welcomed with the obstetricians’ aid, they had the biggest impact on sufferers. “It just became such a distinct environment for patients,” she stated. “To be able to sell the privateness of it. To no longer have ladies laboring four to a room or a room.”

The rooms were simply one phase in a revolution in maternity care. In 1992, the health center’s first midwife shipping came about on June 24, when Deborah Drew brought a baby boy to an Exeter couple. Besides childbirth lessons for expectant dads and moms, the clinic also presented “We’re having a baby” applications for soon-to-be siblings.

In 2000, South County Hospital became the primary health center in the country to earn the Baby-Friendly designation from UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Besides the LDRPs, this honor recognized the health center’s efforts to prioritize breastfeeding as the healthiest opportunity for mom and infant.

Gone have been the times when ladies might be sent domestic with a case of the system. Now, with nurses certified as lactation consultants, the medical institution made a concerted effort to teach and support breastfeeding moms, who get hold of steering even as inside the hospital and could name a “heat line” to invite questions once they have been discharged.

In 2007, the state Department of Health recognized the clinic as a Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace, among the only Rhode Island ones to reap gold status. The emphasis on ladies’ fitness can be seen in a famous new event held for the primary time that 12 months. Nearly three hundred girls turned out at the Dunes Club in Narragansett for the first Women’s Wellness Day.

When Westerly Hospital stopped handing over toddlers in 2013, South County has become the regional center for maternity care in Washington County. The health center now owns its obstetrical exercise, the Center for Women’s Health, which employs five obstetricians/gynecologists, four midwives, and one gynecologist, Dr. Cassin.

The Center for Women’s Health tallies greater than 30,000 visits a year, according to Dr. Lisa Rameaka, a gynecologist/obstetrician and the health facility’s vice chairman of clinical affairs and leader scientific officer. The health facility has 11 LDRP rooms and promises among 650 to 700 toddlers a yr. In 2012, the clinic received a hydrotherapy bath as an ache control method for mothers in hard work.

Its gynecological offerings consist of pelvic floor surgical operation, laparoscopic hysterectomies, and some minimally invasive techniques that can be achieved in the workplace – consisting of hysteroscopy, which permits the physician to view the cervix with a small digicam.

As the hospital has grown, so has its capacity to serve gynecological sufferers. Dr. Cassin noted that Anesthesiologists now supply and monitor epidurals for handing over mothers. Computer hyperlinks imply that obstetricians can take a look at fetal heart monitors from their workplace. A larger OR suite advanced the centers and backup for gynecological operations.

Through their mothers, Dr. Cassin nevertheless hears approximately many of her former obstetrical patients, along with a boy who became born at 1 pound, four oz – at Women & Infant’s – and is now a strapping younger guy. She added her ultimate child, a boy, on April 30, 2004.

“The community has usually welcomed me and treated me properly, and patients were trustworthy and stayed a part of my practice,” she said. “In all honesty, it’s best been exact for me,” she stated of the hospital. “I’ve usually determined the ancillary workforce, from directors to nurses, extremely helpful, friendly… I’ve usually relied on that the humans in price have our exceptional interest at coronary heart. There were many demanding situations, and I assume man yelled.”