TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation’s W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah last week became one of the first tribally operated hospitals to launch the new TeamBirth initiative, which is designed to enhance the labor and delivery experience for Cherokee families.

Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital is among the first tribal hospitals to join over 30 hospitals and health centers launching the initiative. Oklahoma is the first state to implement TeamBirth.

“I am so proud of this effort and the dedication our health team has to our Cherokee families to give them the best possible birth experience,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “TeamBirth ensures mothers and the clinicians who are caring for them have shared input and understanding into decisions during labor and delivery.”

The TeamBirth initiative implements best practices in communication, teamwork, and clinical care in order to improve maternal and neonatal outcomes. Cherokee Nation Health Services will rely on surveys to help gain insight into patient satisfaction and communication improvements between patients and their care teams.

“These practices include team huddles involving mothers, nurses, delivering providers, and other support or clinical team members, allowing our laboring patients to speak and be heard with the simplicity of consistent communication,” said Cherokee Nation Health Services Executive Medical Director Dr. Roger Montgomery. “Communication and teamwork during huddles are conducted through a simple whiteboard in the patient’s room, which is updated with every change during labor and during team discussions so that important information is visible to all members of the team.”

The shared information on the planning boards includes the names of all team members, patient preferences, plan of care for mothers, baby and labor progress, a labor timeline and details about the next check-in.

The Oklahoma TeamBirth Statewide Initiative is a partnership between Oklahoma Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative and Ariadne Labs. The Oklahoma State Department of Health through the State Maternal Health Innovation Program Grant, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services support the project.

“This effort will help us to save time with all conversations about the patient being conducted in front of the patient so that they can ask questions and everyone on the team is on the same page, said W.W. Hastings Hospital Medical Director Dr. Sharon Smallwood “This will also improve nurse to nurse reporting, build patients’ trust for the staff and build trust and better communication within our care teams.”

In the fiscal year 2022, 860 babies were born at the Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah. The hospital has been designated a Baby Friendly Hospital by Baby Friendly USA, offering optimal care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding.