March 14, 2003

VUSN’s nurse-midwives moving to new home

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Elaine Moore, a certified nurse-midwife in the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives clinic, examines patient Helen Tarleton, who is eight months pregnant. (photo by Dana Johnson)

VUSN’s nurse-midwives moving to new home

Convenient parking for patients and extended hours are just two of the perks that await the Vanderbilt Nurse Midwifery Faculty Practice, as it prepares to pack up and move into a new facility at 2611 West End Ave.

The practice has been operating out of partially used space in the OB/GYN department in Medical Center North since 2000. At the time, the practice was only delivering about 40 babies a year, but that number has doubled every year for three years with more than 300 babies expected to be delivered this year.

“All of that is good news, but it makes for tight quarters,” said Bonnie Pilon, DSN, senior associate dean for Practice Management. “We have co-existed with other physician providers in the department for the last two-plus years, and as our delivery volume has grown, there are just not enough exam rooms and we don’t have clinic time or clinic space every day of the week.”

Pilon says pregnant women require at least 13 visits per pregnancy, and when you multiply that by the number of patients, the need for more room is obvious. “With our continued growth in commercial patients we really had to find a new home,” she added.

Pilon says the certified nurse-midwives (CNM) are overdue for a place to call home. “They were at six sites in two years, making it very difficult to build a following.”

The new office will be housed on the third floor of the building, above the Vanderbilt Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Program.

Pilon says the relationship between the CNMs and the OB/GYN department has been wonderful, and she’s thankful they were able to build such a strong practice out of the shared space with support from the attending physicians, but the arrangement was also limiting for the CNM Practice.

“We want to do our own childbirth education classes, (but) we haven’t had a place to do that and we can now do that in the West End building,” Pilon said. “We’ve had to share space with the infertility clinic, so we’ve taken great care to be sensitive to those patients by restricting the CNM patients during those shared hours. Now we will be able to really expand the practice, and not just in patient service ways, but also in philosophical ways.”

Lori Cabbage, MSN, one of the six certified nurse-midwives, says the biggest benefit to having their own space is accessibility to patients. “I think it’s going to be wonderful. We share our space now with several other providers, so we’re at the mercy of their schedules and only able to see patients about two and a half days. But we’ll be able to see patients five days a week at West End. We haven’t had that for so long.”

Deborah Wage, MSN, certified nurse-midwife, agrees. “Patients will be glad that their choice for appointments will no longer be restricted. By being in our own space we will be better able to care for our families by putting their needs first through expanding our availability.”

Wage adds that parking is also a plus. The practice has several families that drive an hour or more to be seen at Vanderbilt, and the new office on West End will be more convenient for them.

The new practice space will have six exam rooms, two offices for the nurse-midwives, including new addition, Laurie Arnold Tompkins, MSN, women’s health nurse practitioner, who will be working as a GYN-only provider.

Pilon says Tompkins’ experience will compliment the nurse-midwives. “She has more advanced GYN skills and she’s bringing about 2,000 new patients to Vanderbilt with her from her community practice. She does more advanced GYN care than they do. So the nurse-midwives will continue to do their GYN, but she’ll take the more complicated cases.”

The nurse-midwives are scheduled to move into their new home April 1.