Vermont Business Magazine A new program at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) provides caesarean section patients the opportunity to return home more quickly than in the past. The program is a part of a general shift toward offering more patient education and preparation before surgical procedures and a more individualized approach to post-operative care, both of which shorten hospital stays.
“We are learning that, with a lot of preparation and support, patients can continue their recovery really well at home,” said Kimberley Sampson, MD, chair of OB/GYN at SVMC. “Most patients prefer returning home sooner to staying in the hospital.”
In the past, C-section patients would stay in the hospital 3 – 4 days. Now, if both the mother and the baby are ready, they can return home in as few as 2 days.
The changes to the caesarean section program does require extra preparation from both the patient and the medical team. Both before and after the surgery, patients follow exercise recommendations that emphasize proper lung function. Patients also receive nutritional counseling in advance to ensure they are eating enough protein, which promotes healing.
A different approach to pain management has enabled far greater flexibility in releasing patients. In the past, patients would receive a narcotic. This drug often makes patients nauseous. Patients on the drug find it more difficult to function. As an opioid, it is also carries a high risk for addiction and dependence. According to Sampson, patients do very well on a combination of Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen, instead. In addition, they are able to return to normal activities more quickly, including: moving around, eating, and using the bathroom.
The initiative sprung from the success of the practice’s same-day hysterectomy program, which also limits narcotics and builds on the practice’s work to reduce opioid use during delivery by offering an alternative, nitrous oxide, as a pain management medication.
“Changing how we treat pain has been a major priority for the department for years,” Sampson said. “Patients feel better about taking medications that are not as addictive, and we feel great that the medications are less likely to be abused.”
Additional follow up and support is provided in the patient’s home with the help of the SVMC’s nationally recognized Transitional Care Nursing program.
“Our patients thrive within this process,” Sampson noted. “Birth is disruptive. This process allows them to feel more human, to return to their normal routines, more quickly.”
The program is an example of an industry-wide push to improve the quality of health care and improve the patient experience while reducing healthcare costs. The program was developed in cooperation with anesthesia, obstetric, and surgical teams as part of a physician leadership project through the Vermont Medical Society’s Physician Executive Leadership Institute. It is endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. While some regional hospitals offer similar procedures, they are not widely available.
“Preparing the entire care team for important changes like these is not easy, but it is important,” Sampson said. “Patients have a far better experience with fewer risks to their long-term wellbeing.”
Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) is a comprehensive, preeminent, health care system providing exceptional, convenient, and affordable care to the communities of Bennington and Windham Counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC includes Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, and the SVHC Foundation. SVMC includes 25 primary and specialty care practices.
Southwestern Vermont Health Care is among the most lauded small rural health systems in the nation. It is the recipient of the American Hospital Association’s 2020 Rural Hospital Leadership Award. SVMC ranked fourth nationwide for the value of care it provides by the Lown Institute Hospital Index and is a five-time recipient of the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence. It has also received the highest marks possible from the Leapfrog Group.
Source: BENNINGTON, VT—March 11, 2021—Southwestern Vermont Medical Center