Samaritan Health Services | Corvallis, Ore.
In 2001, a Samaritan Health Services (SHS) physician, Dr. Richard Wopat, recognized the need to improve birth outcomes of high-risk pregnant women in the region. In collaboration with various community and state partners, he started a pilot program in 2002 at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center to ensure that the most vulnerable pregnant women had access to care and to screenings for special issues including medical, obstetrical, and psychosocial concerns. Today, the Samaritan Maternity Connection (MC) program is now implemented at all five of the SHS hospitals and the three county health departments.
In 2009, the maternity care coordinators across the region noticed an increase in Hispanic/Latina women and teenage girls with pre-term and low-birth weight babies. Program leaders immediately began searching for and hiring bilingual/bicultural maternity care coordinators to provide outreach, education, and support to Spanish-speaking women throughout the region, as well as implemented programs that target teenage girls. Maternity care coordinators make certain that all eligible clients are enrolled in the state Medicaid program or other insurance options.
Laurie Barajas, maternity care coordinator for Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital’s Maternity Connections program, meets every pregnant woman at her first obstetrics appointment. Austan Bailey, a senior at Lebanon High School, participated in the program.
“I wasn’t signed up for the Oregon Health Plan,” said Bailey. “She (Barajas) went through the paperwork with me and knew what parts to fill out. She was really easy-going and patient.”
Bailey is now a new mom, and she plans to train to be a dental hygienist after graduation. She continues to meet with Barajas as part of a class for pregnant and parenting students at the high school. Students receive advice on everything from preparing for childbirth to coping when their baby won’t stop crying. Barajas, a social worker for 19 years, has credibility because she was also a teen mom.
“She can relate,” Bailey said. “She really does understand.”