Kalispell hospital offers free clinic for new parents

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 Kalispell Regional Medical Center’s Birthing Center has redesigned its OB Clinic, giving parents expanded hours for free help with their new baby from registered nurses.

Called the Mother-Baby Clinic, Lactation Services, the clinic is available to all, regardless of where the baby was born.

Parents and babies receive hands-on support from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Nurses Jill VanNice-Steiner and Tracy Wills record the child’s progress, get to know the family and understand each mother and father’s level of comfort with parenting.

Both lactation specialists, Steiner and Wills show new mothers the ins and outs of breastfeeding. Mothers of infants who start life in the neonatal intensive care unit receive ongoing lactation support.

The registered nurses also track the day-to-day health of newborns. At the first visit, Steiner and Wills check the baby’s weight, comparing it with the birth weight and where the child should be by then.

They also draw blood to screen for jaundice and spend time with parents discussing any issues with the baby’s transition to home.

According to clinical supervisor Rochelle Mertz,  the shift to longer clinic hours and a cohesive approach to caring for the baby and family long-term has gone well.

“When we put two nurses with the same vision and the same goal, it works well for families,” Mertz said. “Tracy and Jill are very different in their approaches, but at the end of the day, their goal is the same. They do it through good communication. Together, they build a plan of care.”

The nurses see 10 or 15 patients a day  and help lead a breastfeeding support group every Tuesday from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in the OB Department family room.

For more information, call the Mother-Baby Clinic at 751-MOMS (751-6667).

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