New SICHC obstetrics offers critical services
Southern Indiana Community Health Care’s new obstetrics services for expectant mothers and families is “being well-received and making good progress in reaching mothers, babies and women,” according to Yolanda Yoder, MD, SICHC medical director.
The new services include general obstetrics, pregnancy, well-baby and well-woman services in Southern Indiana, including expanded services in Crawford County.
“Rural areas traditionally present a number of unique challenges that expectant mothers or women who seek OB-related services may face, including limited service,” said Yoder. “We have expanded our strong OB service offerings with our physicians and Melissa Ray, a family nurse practitioner, to meet these important needs in Washington, Martin and Crawford counties, as well as the patients we serve in Orange and elsewhere in Southern Indiana.”
“Pregnancy is a very special time for expectant mothers and families, and I count it a privilege to help support them with OB, well-baby, pediatric and well-woman services,” Ray said. “Every pregnancy is different, and our entire medical staff recognizes the uniqueness of each patient and goes beyond to ensure great care is delivered.”
Ray provides expanded OB services at SICHC’s Crawford County Health Care in Marengo; Patoka Family Health Care in English; Choices Life Resource Center in Salem; and the Martin County Health Department/WIC facility in Shoals, as well as SICHC’s other locations in Orange County.
In addition to being a family nurse practitioner, Ray has a master’s degree in nursing.
Ray directly cares for expectant mothers through in-person visits (observing COVID-19 precautions) and by telehealth connectivity. At 36 weeks into a pregnancy, Ray’s patients are transferred and then served directly by SICHC physicians, including Dr. Sean Salés, Dr. Karen Farris and Yoder. Babies are normally delivered at the IU Hospital in Paoli by SICHC physicians with visiting privileges.
SICHC secured a grant from the Indiana State Department of Health in 2020 to specifically help provide obstetrics services to counties that had been designated as medically underserved for OB.
Ray presently travels between SICHC medical offices in Marengo, English and elsewhere to see patients and provide general OB services.
“Missy Ray offers our expectant mothers and their babies superb depth and first-hand experience,” said Yoder. “In addition to being a qualified and experienced nurse practitioner caring for OB patients and families these past four years, she served in the hospital delivery room for 16 years and as a general R.N.”
“It’s very exciting to provide these services and help mothers, babies, families and women in general lead healthy lives,” said Ray. “I especially appreciate working with the OB and extended medical team at SICHC, because everyone here puts patients first, treating and supporting them as people, not a set of chronic conditions; there’s a very high commitment to service.”
Ray also appreciates being able to offer general women’s health services, including preventive measures like mammograms and pap smears.
“We want to elevate the level of woman and family health, which can be a challenge for women and families living in rural areas,” she said.
Serving as a nurse practitioner has special moments, including once when Ray helped with a delivery that was being securely streamed by video to a military serviceman serving in Afghanistan.
“That was an amazing moment, giving a father serving across the world the chance to see his baby being born in Southern Indiana,” she said. “Those are priceless experiences.”