I would just like to comment on the cover story in the December 29 Reader, “Start at the Oceanside Pier. Stop in 3000 Miles.” I’ve noticed bicycle races — I guess mostly European bicycle races — on television channel 39-3, and they are the stupidest, dumbest things I’ve ever seen, really. I mean, all these guys pedaling along, and all these crazy Spaniards or Italians or Frenchmen or whatever it is standing along the side of the road reaching out to touch them or get in their way, and all these guys puffing along on their bicycles. So, reading your story, it sounds just as dumb. You’d think these people at ViaSat would have better things to do with their time.
And I don’t particularly hate bicycles. I actually rode bicycles from the time I was 7 or 8 years old until I was 18, I guess. But these geeks I see around here with their little bumblebee outfits and their silly little helmets. These guys clutter up the highway and get in people’s way, with all their support vehicles. I’ll give credit to the bicyclists in the 1890s, before automobiles came along: they were responsible for the building of a lot of good roads in this country.
via voice mail
Do No Harm
Re “The Unkindest Cut” (Cover Story, December 15).
It saddens me that Ms. Salaam took the time and effort to write this story in your publication. The amount of “research” that she did on Pitocin and epidurals, she should have put just as much research in understanding what a “high-risk women’s hospital actually does.” All of the people that were interviewed for this piece are only a fraction (small fraction) of patients that we care for on a daily basis.
Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Newborns is a facility that takes great pride in caring for patients and their newborns. I consider this piece slanderous, not just speaking as an employee of SMB but also as a former patient for not one but two of my children. We consistently honor patients that want hypnobirths or have birth plans. We have a large number of nurses that are trained to care for patients that have this option, and we respect their decisions if they want doulas to be a part of their birthing experience.
Ms. Salaam should have taken the time to investigate what the “real” reasons were for these patients or for patients in general that have to get C-sections. It has nothing to do with a “time schedule.” It has nothing to do with doctors just not caring. It does, however, have a lot to do with the maternal health of the patient, her overall health history prior to and during the pregnancy, and the overall nine-month health history of the fetus, which affects the delivery outcome. Because we are a “high risk” facility, a percentage of the patients that we care for are patients that have “not had the best overall medical history for themselves and/or their newborns.” That percentage of patients usually have body mass indexes that are way above the healthy limit to birth a child; gestational diabetes, which, more often than not, causes the unborn baby to be larger than usual (i.e., greater than nine or ten pounds); or cardiac issues (maternal or newborn) that if the baby was to be born naturally would result in the possibility of a demise (fetal death). Sometimes just the mother pushing alone is not tolerated by the fetus, which causes a decrease in heart rate, which can also result in the possibility of demise. This list of issues along with other factual and statistically documented information are just a few reasons why cesarean sections occur and are warranted.
On the subject of doulas, we at SMB do not have anything against doulas. We welcome them just as we welcome the patients we care for at our facility. But we need to work as a team. From my perspective, when a doula walks into our facility, they often come with a chip on their shoulder. They treat the labor and delivery nurses as if we do not have any education or skill. Some, not all that come to our facility, consistently undermine our abilities to care for our patients and many times flat-out tell the patients that they “do not have to listen to us.” This is a very frustrating situation. We happily allow the patients to have whoever they want in their birthing rooms during their laboring process, doulas included. But doulas (some, not all) have no respect for the care we give to the patients. We are all on the same team, with the same goal in mind. For them to come into our facility and tell a patient not to listen to us is uncalled for, and this is where the problem lies. Many doulas, regardless of their experience, are not nurses and have no medical experience outside of what they are taught. So, when we see something that is a potential danger to the mother and/or baby, it is up to the patient, the father of the baby, and the nurse to determine what the best course of action is for the delivery outcome, not the doula. They do not have power of attorney to make the decisions they want to make for these patients. We have nothing against doulas in any way, shape, or form. We just expect for them to be respectful of what it is we do and that our first course in care is to “do no harm.”
There was mention of the birthing centers. If a patient is medically and physically healthy to deliver at a birthing center or at home, great. However, what most patients don’t realize is that if there are issues with a delivery or during the laboring process, they will be immediately sent to a medical center for proper care if the delivery becomes high risk.
The point I am making is this: as a hospital, like any hospital, we do our very best to care for our patients in the most compassionate way possible without malice. We do not just do C-sections for general purpose. I feel that if these patients had an issue with the care they should have asked to speak to someone one-on-one so that a collective resolution could have been made to help others in the future. We consistently do what we can to make our patients as comfortable and happy as possible, and when it comes to ensuring safety, which is our number one goal, that is all we can do. Let’s get both sides of the story and make sure the facts are heard instead of printing half-truths.