[fancy-title type=”h3″]New Location, More Access[/fancy-title]

In December 2010, NorthCountry Prenatal Services (NPS) became Open Door’s newest clinic, relocating the services from the NorthCountry Clinic on 18th Street in Arcata to its own quarters in the Shaw Pavilion at MadRiver Community Hospital. “The number of patients we served doubled over the past several years. We were out of space. We now assist in the delivery of over 400 babies a year.

“We want women to get involved in their prenatal care as soon as they know they are pregnant. Now we can offer much more access,” says Karen Severn, RN, coordinator of the new clinic.  “And we’re right here at Mad River. Most of our women choose to deliver at the Birth Center, so the convenience is great for our mothers and our providers.”

[fancy-title type=”h3″]A Comprehensive Experience[/fancy-title]

“We take a family practice approach to prenatal care,” says Jerry Alston, MD, Medical Director of the new NorthCountry Prenatal Services. “Getting to know families makes our services special. We address the patient as a whole person and work to provide support for whatever the patient is facing. This can include medical elements, psychological adjustments and social and support needs; all the aspects of the patient’s life. Our services are truly a comprehensive experience.”

That experience starts at the front desk where you are likely to be greeted by Bethany Taylor. “I first came to NorthCountry Prenatal Services when I was pregnant. I thought, ‘I would love to work here.’ and when a position opened up a few months after I delivered my daughter, I jumped at the chance.” Now Bethany uses her experiences as consumer and staff to assist patients every day. “I wear both hats. I understand where patients are coming from and can relate to their concerns.”

NPS provides a place for patients to seek answers and support at a time of dynamic change. Karen Severn, RN Coordinator of the prenatal program, works to support patients through the change and challenge of new parenthood. Karen believes that NPS provides love and care to mothers so they have the energy to give back to their children. “It takes a caring team to do a caring job, and we have a great team.”

“It takes a caring team to do a caring job, and we have a great team.” – Karen Severn, RN Coordinator at NorthCountry Prenatal Services

One of the team members is Robin Fraser, Medical Assistant at NPS. As a certified EMT, Trinidad Fire Department volunteer, and former health educator for the Peace Corps, Robin’s interest in prenatal education led to her job at NPS. “I find real value in the interaction and open communication that is a part of our clinic. We are all part of the care team.” Fluent in Spanish, Robin is one of the clinic’s interpreters. “I’m committed to this kind of health care. I’m working on my perquisites at CR to become a Physician Assistant. I want to be more involved in prenatal care and the birthing experience.”

Caroline Murphy is another Medical Assistant at NPS. Caroline was so impressed with the program that she and her family relocated from Oregon, in part so she could join the NPS team. “Medical care is an important part of birth, but it’s not the whole story. We acknowledge and honor a woman’s wishes and abilities in the birth process. I get to be a part of that.” Caroline and her husband have four children ages 6 through 14. Caroline says, “I love the ‘cool stuff per capita’ in Humboldt, the theater, the arts, the music, and we’re out and about all the time. There are so many happy interesting people.”

“Medical care is an important part of birth, but it’s not the whole story. We acknowledge and honor a woman’s wishes and abilities in the birth process. I get to be a part of that.”

That team of providers includes Jerry Alston, MD, who joined Open Door in 1998. “I love what I do and I love where I do it,” says Dr. Alston, who in addition to his role at NPS maintains a family practice at NorthCountry Clinic. “I like that we serve a diverse range of patients. It is a small enough community that I can be out on the soccer field or at home playing guitar one minute, and be in the birthing center the next.” Dr. Alston is excited about the new NPS space. “It presents the opportunity for fresh momentum with the hospital. It is a beautiful space that we hope is welcoming and friendly for women during their pregnancy and birth experience. The new space will allow us to continue to grow our program.”

Ellen Drury, CNM, has been practicing as a certified nurse midwife since 1976. “It is so fulfilling to serve women with such a wide range of needs. I have always believed in supporting women in the process from pregnancy to motherhood.” Humboldt County is Ellen’s home. “This is my community, I belong here, and I am proud to be present at the birth of babies in my community, not just my place of work.” Ellen finds importance in forging lasting relationships. She adds with modesty, “My involvement in the community is becoming multi-generational. Recently I was present as a woman was giving birth; I had been present when she was born. It has been a gift to see the generations develop in this community.”

The newest member of the provider team, Eloi Hoopman, DO, loves working with women who want to direct their own care. “I view myself as more as a consultant than a decision maker. Above all else, I work to support a woman’s vision of her birth experience. I believe in a woman’s ability to make decisions.” In addition to her NPS responsibilities, Dr. Hoopman maintains a family practice at NorthCountry Clinic. “I sought a community healthcare system that was dedicated to access for all. I found it at Open Door.” Eloi says, “My husband and I love exploring the area with our two little ones. Arcata is an incredible town for young families, and I love making connections between the clinic and the community.”

“I love what I do and I love where I do it” -Jerry Allston

Karen Severn extends caring beyond the clinic as well. You are likely to see husband John and their two sons at the Arcata Farmers’ Market at their organic produce booth. “We own and operate Little River Farm in Freshwater. I feel like I provide emotional nourishment while my husband provides physical nourishment. It’s a good balance for us.” Karen sees many families at the Market that she’s assisted at the clinic. “What a joy to see the babies grow and develop.”


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