These days we hear the term “centre of excellence” (COE) more and more often. COE’s are defined simply as a team, facility or organization that provides leadership, best practices, research, education, and training in a specific speciality. To be named a COE, it means not only to provide quality care, but deliver truly exceptional work – setting the bar for others in the field.

This leads us to Oak Valley Health’s Alongside Midwifery Unit (AMU) at Markham Stouffville Hospital, an area that has always been at the top of their game, demonstrated through their expertise and dedication to patients and families. A first of its kind in Canada, the AMU has led the way in providing access to parents choosing to have a midwife for their childbirth experience in a hospital setting.

Since opening in 2018, the program has continuously gone above and beyond in leading clinical practice and standardization. They have built on existing strengths and brought together unparalleled talent and expertise to build new collaboration, within Oak Valley Health’s walls and beyond.

The organization is proud to officially announce the Alongside Midwifery Unit as a Centre of Excellence. Oak Valley Health’s Alongside Midwifery Unit Centre of Excellence, at Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH).

“This is an extraordinary achievement for our health network and for our patients and families, and reflects the bold steps Oak Valley Health will continue to take to shape the future of care for York Region and beyond,” says Jo-anne Marr, President and CEO of Oak Valley Health.

The design of a Centre of Excellence affords many advantages for both health care providers, as they continue learning and growing, and the community we serve, with the ultimate goal of providing the best possible outcomes for our patients.

“The units expertise paired with its ongoing commitment to education, I believe we’ve always been a centre of excellence,” says Silva Nercessian, Director, Alongside Midwifery Unit, and Childbirth & Children’s Services, Oak Valley Health. “It’s very exciting to see all of our hard work being recognized.”

Care Beyond Our Walls

Midwives have been successfully integrated into the childbirth care team at MSH since 1994 and work collaboratively to deliver optimal services to patients in our community. In the coming years, the AMU will support over 1,000 more deliveries by allowing midwives to care for a greater number of expectant families in the region. In 2021/22 the AMU had 656 admissions over the course of the year, a number that is continuously growing. Of the births in 2021/22, 80% were discharged within six hours with access to a system of care in the comfort of their home.

The high-level care that patients receive at the AMU doesn’t end after the baby is born. A hospitalist midwife is on the AMU at all times and is available for early labour assessments, telephone advice, and assisting in patient care. A community midwife supports during active labour, birth and postpartum, including until six weeks after childbirth.

What This Means For You, Our Patients and Community

Patients planning to give birth in a midwife-led birthing unit use less pain relief medication, are more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth with less intervention, and experience higher rates of satisfaction with their birthing experience.

As a patient of the centre of excellence, you can expect:

  • Access to specialists
  • An extraordinary patient experience
  • Coordinated care
  • Focused expertise

Oak Valley Health has also created Postpartum Village, an online ‘village’ of services for all new parents and their baby, staffed by caregivers specializing in postpartum care including breastfeeding, newborn care, and mental health.

“Our team has worked tirelessly since the beginning to build a true network of care for every midwifery patient who comes through our doors,” says Silva. “We’re proud to continue offering seamless midwifery services, close to home.”

The AMU receives overwhelmingly positive feedback from past patients – a survey is given to patients while on the unit, asking questions such as if you become pregnant again, would you give birth on the AMU at MSH? Not surprisingly, 100 per cent said yes. Also,100 per cent of participants said they were very satisfied with their overall experience on the AMU.

“This is a true testament to the entire team,” says Silva. “We strive to create a comfortable and relaxing environment, and the feedback demonstrates we are doing this.”

To learn more about Oak Valley Health’s Alongside Midwifery Unit Centre of Excellence, at Markham Stouffville Hospital AMU, visit our main page.