New moms give high marks to SAMMC for labor, delivery care

Maj. Nicholas Carr, a neonatologist, takes a break from his paternity leave to give Staff Sgt. Keri Sorsby a sleep sack for her newborn Isabella in the post-partum unit at San Antonio Military Medical Center, Jan. 25, 2016. SAMMC is partnering with Bexar County on the Safe to Sleep campaign, which encourages parents to place babies on their backs on a firm surface free of pillows, crib bumpers and loose bedding. Carr is with the 959th Medical Operations Squadron. (U.S. Army photo by Robert T. Shields/Released)

Maj. Nicholas Carr, a neonatologist, takes a break from his paternity leave to give Staff Sgt. Keri Sorsby a sleep sack for her newborn Isabella in the post-partum unit at San Antonio Military Medical Center, Jan. 25, 2016. SAMMC is partnering with Bexar County on the Safe to Sleep campaign, which encourages parents to place babies on their backs on a firm surface free of pillows, crib bumpers and loose bedding. Carr is with the 959th Medical Operations Squadron. (U.S. Army photo by Robert T. Shields/Released)

Air Force 2nd Lt. Auriel Vokolek, a nurse, takes newborn Isabella’s temperature as her mom, Air Force Staff Sgt. Keri Sorsby, holds her in the post-partum unit at San Antonio Military Medical Center. (U.S. Army photo by Robert T. Shields/Released)

Air Force 2nd Lt. Auriel Vokolek, a nurse, takes newborn Isabella’s temperature as her mom, Air Force Staff Sgt. Keri Sorsby, holds her in the post-partum unit at San Antonio Military Medical Center. (U.S. Army photo by Robert T. Shields/Released)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- The San Antonio Military Medical Center Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston remains the Department of Defense's highest-rated facility for maternal-child satisfaction, according to TRICARE Inpatient Satisfaction Surveys.

This means new moms are continually giving high marks to SAMMC for their labor, delivery and post-partum care, explained Army Col. Scott Kambiss, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology chief.

"We provide compassionate, state-of-the-art care every step of the way," he said. "We feel like we have the best to offer our active duty, retirees and veterans."

Kambiss credits the standout survey results to a highly qualified staff and top-notch amenities and services.

"Our staff is one of the most diverse groups of OB/GYNs I've seen," he said. "We have a mix of seasoned veterans who bring education and a vast amount of knowledge to the table, as well as recent graduates who bring with them the most modern approaches in the field." 

Additionally, as a teaching hospital, SAMMC hosts Army and Air Force residents and medical students on clinical rotations, he added.

The robust team also includes obstetricians and certified midwives. This mix of specialties enables expectant moms to customize their birthing plan, whether they're set on natural childbirth or open to pain relief interventions, noted Army Col. Elizabeth Murray, Maternal-Child Nursing chief.

"We are very involved in collaborating with patients regarding their birth plans and supporting them as much as possible," she said.

The labor and delivery environment is an extension of that support, Murray said. With glossy wood floors and inviting colors, the unit has a home-like feel from the moment a family enters the double doors.

Expectant moms and their families stay in large, private rooms from labor throughout the postpartum experience.

"We really try to provide a family centered experience in an environment that reminds them of home," Murray said.

The unit is collocated with pediatrics' neonatal intensive care unit, which ensures state-of-the-art care for babies with health issues or born on the earliest side of maturity.

"We work hand in hand with the Department of Pediatrics," Kambiss said. "We wouldn't be able to do what we do without their great assistance."

Throughout the department, lactation consultants are on hand to encourage and facilitate breastfeeding for new moms, Murray added, noting SAMMC's commitment to breastfeeding initiatives. SAMMC is the Defense Department's first designated Texas Ten Step facility, meaning it has shown an exemplary effort to promote and educate patients on breastfeeding.

Both pre- and post-partum, patients have access to one of the city's only women's health physical therapists.

Patricia Rodriguez treats pelvic floor dysfunctions, such as urinary incontinence, chronic pelvic pain and a host of other women's issues.

"One of my main goals is to teach patients how to take care of themselves," Rodriguez said. "The more you understand about your body, the more effective you can be in taking care of it at every stage of life."

Col. Brian York, Department of OB/GYN assistant chief with the 959th Medical Operations Squadron, calls it a "true honor" to work at SAMMC.

"We have the privilege of helping our patients bring a new life into their family," York said. "It's quite an honor to be a part of that."

Capt. Tiffany Prochaska, emergency department assistant team lead with the 959th Inpatient Operations Squadron, also has high praise for SAMMC's childbirth services. She has the distinction of delivering the hospital's first baby of 2016: 9-pound, 2-ounce Evelyn Rose.

"Everyone was wonderful; very compassionate," she said. "I knew a lot of the people taking care of me which took a lot of the anxiety away. I'm thrilled to work and receive care here."

Airmen with the 959th Medical Group, part of the 59th Medical Wing headquartered at nearby Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, work with Army counterparts throughout SAMMC. The group plays a significant role in all facets of care.

Obstetric services are open to all TRICARE beneficiaries. Additionally, thanks to a new Veterans Affairs sharing agreement, VA beneficiaries are now welcome to give birth at SAMMC.

"We have a long-standing agreement with the VA to take care of veterans with gynecological issues," Kambiss said. "This new agreement in obstetrics will enable us to offer more services to our female veterans. We are excited to care for this deserving population."

Murray said she's proud to work at a facility that always puts the patients first.  "When I ask the staff what they enjoy most about working here, I hear nearly the same answer across the board," she said. "It's the emphasis on safety and quality care that draws them to the organization. And if our staff is happy, our patients are happy."

 
 
  
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