MedWatch Today: Perinatal RN Navigator guides parents through baby’s difficult diagnosis

Med Watch Today

Navigating through a high-risk pregnancy certainly has it’s challenges, but thankfully for the expecting moms at Community Medical Centers, there is one nurse assigned to helping them through some of the obstacles they may face.

For the last four decades, labor and delivery nurse Julie Christopherson has cared for patients, a job she holds dear to her heart. But last October, Julie took on a slightly new nursing role at community medical centers. She became a RN navigator for perinatal care and bereavement.

Julie explains, she works with high-risk pregnant women, including pregnant women whose babies have congenital abnormalities or mothers who suffer from fetal loss. Julie helps navigate those patients through the hospital system.

“For patients whose babies have identified genetic abnormalities or congenital abnormalities it’s a different story, because they have to do much more frequent ultrasound follow ups they may have to meet with other physicians, specialists during their pregnancy, they may have questions about what’s going to happen with baby when it delivers,” said Julie.

Julie helped guide the Whaley family through a difficult diagnosis. Last year, when Whaley was 20 weeks pregnant, she found out her son blaine had posterior urethral valves. Membranes that develop in the urethra and block the flow of urine, damaging the urinary system.

Janie, “When I went to the specialist, she did another ultrasound and told me that blaine had an enlarged bladder and kidneys that were quite a lot larger than they were normally supposed to be.”

Janie and her husband chris were overwhelmed by the news, as everything else during her pregnancy was normal. The first time parents were introduced to Julie, who helped to arrange a meeting with a neonatologist to explain the situation more.

“She was able to coordinate reaching out to the medical team and getting the panel to look over Blaine and my case and just see what we could do,” said Janie.

Chris said, “Even reading up on his condition and seeing the negativity, Julie was pretty positive about the situation, so was everybody else.”

Little Blaine eventually went on to have surgery after a healthy delivery, and though he will likely need more surgery in the future, today he is a thriving six-month old boy.

“I don’t know what I would have done without Julie… I felt okay somebody’s here to advocate for me, to advocate for my son and to help us kind of navigate this whole experience,” said Janie.

Julie said she strives to instill hope in her patients, especially when they are coping with traumatic situations. Her favorite part of being a nurse navigator is building relationships with the parents.

“I think that’s why I love it so much because I get to stay connected with families like Chris and Janie and they send me pictures,” said Julie.

The Whaley’s said they are so grateful for the care they received at Community Medical Centers, and especially for Julie’s support.

Janie ended, “Thank you, yeah, I don’t have words to express how grateful I am. The experience I had was a scary experience, but I felt taken care of, I felt that Blaine was taken care of and they put his needs first and that’s all I ever wanted.”

“It’s awesome. It’s just a really rewarding feeling just to know you had just a little tiny part in where they’re at today,” ended Julie.

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