Waimea Women’s Center Receives OHA Grant to Offer Culturally-Relevant Prenatal Program for Native Hawaiian Women

North Hawaii Community Hospital’s (NHCH) Waimea Women’s Center (WWC) was recently awarded a two-year grant totaling $206,768 from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). The purpose of this grant is to implement a culturally-relevant prenatal care program for Native Hawaiian women by using a group model of care known as CenteringPregnancy to address health and emotional wellbeing and improve pregnancy outcomes.

North Hawaii Community Hospital

North Hawaii Community Hospital

“We are honored to partner with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in addressing these important issues,” said Dr. Patricia Gunter, North Hawaii Medical Group Director and OB/GYN Physician at Waimea Women’s Center. CenteringPregnancy offers a group approach to prenatal care, combining three essential elements of care every pregnant woman needs: health assessment, education and support to improve pregnancy outcomes. A certified nurse midwife from NHCH’s Waimea Women’s Center facilitates 10 two-hour sessions with 8 to 10 mothers-to-be and their partner. All women are due around the same time, and sessions start in the first trimester of pregnancy. Each session includes a comfortable environment, including food and an individual health prenatal assessment, with the majority of time focused on group discussions, creating a community and an opportunity to share common experiences and concerns.

“Rather than having traditional short and frequent one-on-one visits with their healthcare provider, this group model of prenatal care known as CenteringPregnancy will better meet the needs of our unique, rural Native Hawaiian

population, which makes up nearly 30 percent of the community we serve and 50% of delivering moms at NHCH,” says Robin Ramsay, NHCH Waimea Women’s Center Certified Nurse Midwife and CenteringPregnancy facilitator. Maternal health indicators show a higher rate of infant mortality, teen birth rate and an increase in social risk factors in Native Hawaiians that is in disproportion to other ethnic groups in the state. “Our hope is to enroll eighty Native Hawaiian women into this new culturally-relevant prenatal program per year over the next two years.”

“Benefits of the CenteringPregnancy model of care are many,” says Ramsay. “It creates a community for moms-to-be, focusing on a woman’s own experiences and sharing these experiences with each other.” Additional benefits of this new group model of care include: higher patient satisfaction, mothers-to-be are more involved in their prenatal care, are more likely to deliver healthy, full-term babies and to breast feed longer.

Working in conjunction with the Waimea Women’s Center, the hospital’s Kaheleaulani, a Native Hawaiian Health Program, will provide seamless primary care services within the same culturally-sensitive framework. “Kaheleulani provides primary care services by understanding and embracing a culturally-appropriate healthcare approach for Native Hawaiians and takes into account traditional Hawaiian healing principles that differ from those of Western medicine,” says Dr. Leina’ala Crawford, Kaheleaulani Medical Director and Primary Care Physician. “We are enthusiastic about this project and understand that it will benefit the community in ways that connect our people to preventive and interactive health care,” says Crawford.

NHCH’s Waimea Women’s Center is currently the only healthcare provider on Hawaii Island offering CenteringPregnancy. In addition, Waimea Women’s Center offers a full spectrum of services for women through every stage of life, including: preconception care, prenatal care, delivery services (in the hospital’s Level I Family Birthing Unit), post partum care and gynecology services for women of all ages. WWC provides services for 2,000 to 3,000 women per year, including nearly 600 births, and accepts all insurances. WWC accepts island-wide maternal care patients on a space available basis. Waimea Women’s Center is located in the Lucy Henriques Medical Center at North Hawaii Community Hospital at 67-1123 Mamalahoa Hwy, Suites 110 and 120, Kamuela, HI 96743. For more information on CenteringPregnancy, the Waimea Women’s Center or to make an appointment, please call 808-885-9606.

NHCH Background: North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH) is a rural 33-bed acute care hospital located in Kamuela, on Hawai‘i Island. Non-profit and locally governed, the hospital opened in May 1996 and cares for Hawai‘i Island residents and visitors. NHCH offers an extensive set of hospital services that are centered on patient needs, creating a healing experience for the whole person – mind, body and spirit. Please visit http://www.NHCH.com for more information.

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