The Perinatal Screening & Case Management Program at North Ottawa Community Health System was created to screen for and treat perinatal mood disorders, including anxiety, depression and psychosis, in moms before and after the birth of their baby.
It is estimated that one in seven women suffer from perinatal mood disorder during pregnancy or in the first year after giving birth. To help these families, North Ottawa Community Health System screens moms during pregnancy and after delivery. Moms who are high risk receive immediate attention from a perinatal resource coordinator. The program also connects moms with preventative resources, such as exercise classes, breastfeeding support classes and more.
The screening program provides an avenue for discussion. Perinatal mood disorder symptoms often go unreported due to the stigma surrounding the issue. One goal of the Perinatal Screening & Case Management Program is to reduce this stigma by talking openly to patients and staff about the importance of recognizing and reporting symptoms. This starts when the patient first finds out they are pregnant. A perinatal mood disorder coordinator meets with patients in the OB/GYN office and continues to talk to them throughout the pregnancy.
The impact of the program has been drastic. In 2011, before the program began, moms visited the North Ottawa Community Health System Emergency Department 129 times because of perinatal mood disorder symptoms. From January to October 2015, that number decreased to 17. On average, the North Ottawa Community Health System has screened approximately 350 women a year and provided these women with treatment and resources if needed.
The North Ottawa Community Health System has shown commitment to its patients and has been a driving force in the important mental health discussion.