Lakisha Stinson - St. Joseph Patient Story - Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

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Women’s Outpatient Center: Making a Difference

Lakisha Stinson knows all too well the devastating affects of premature birth. Her first baby was born at just 26 weeks. The baby girl Lakisha named Kelviana weighed just 1 pound, 15 oz.

Kelviana spent most of her short life in the Wheaton Franciscan – St. Joseph Campus neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Her preterm birth had caused numerous complications. By six months, Kelviana had stabilized and it seemed all would be fine. At eight months, however, she died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

The death of her daughter took a toll on Lakisha. She battled depression and her life seemed to spiral out of control. So, several years later when she found herself pregnant again, Lakisha was scared. “I didn’t want to deal with what happened with my first baby,” she recalled.

So she went to the Women’s Outpatient Center at St. Joseph where she met Mary Mazul, a certified nurse wife, who worked with her throughout her pregnancy.

“The people at the Women’s Outpatient Center really helped,” said Lakisha, who is now the proud mother of a healthy baby girl named Rashyia. “Mary told me everything would be OK. I trusted her and believed her. I went in every week. Now Pam (Gende), the social worker, visits me every week.”

Recognized nationally for its clinical excellence and customer care, the Center provides a wide range of obstetric and gynecological services from general wellness checks and screenings to advanced treatments for a variety of conditions. It also provides the emotional support its patients need.

The Center also operates the Stork's Nest program, which offers care for low-income women and babies like Lakisha. Women receive guidance throughout pregnancy, delivery and early parenting months. The program encourages women to embrace strong perinatal care for the health and wellness of their babies and themselves. It also offers incentives for women to make and keep medical appointments.

The Center was able to provide a multitude of services to Lakisha. Mazul said Lakisha came into the Center early in her pregnancy, which is key to helping women obtain a good outcome. She was enrolled in the Center’s Prenatal Care Program, which provides education to expectant mothers on the importance of prenatal care. She also received help with smoking cessation. Counselors put Lakisha in touch with state resources to help with her financial needs, and she received therapy to help her deal with the depression that still lingered from the loss of her first child. Lakisha also took a car seat class offered by the Center, which qualified her for a free car seat. She also received a free Pack ‘N Play portable crib through the Safe Sleep program at St. Joseph to ensure her child would have a safe place to sleep.

“The atmosphere of caring and trust we were able to cultivate with Lakisha made all the difference in the outcome of her second pregnancy,” Mazul said. “Lakisha was very closed and distant from us in the beginning, but as she began to see we would not judge her and we truly wanted her to have a good outcome, she shared things with us that were incredibly important to her care. We were able to understand how she learned, what she needed, and most importantly where we needed to intervene to help her.”

The Center has helped hundreds of women like Lakisha as it works to help stem the rate of infant mortality in the City of Milwaukee.

“Preterm birth is the number one cause of infant death in Milwaukee,” Mazul said. "It is a complex issue that needs to be addressed through many avenues. While access to high quality prenatal care is so important, we also need access to social services, community support and education. The Women’s Outpatient Center provides a unique multidisciplinary approach to preventing preterm birth. Through our different grants and community liaisons we strive to educate our community and fellow medical providers on the magnitude of this issue and our respective roles in improving outcomes.”

Learn more about the Women's Outpatient Center.

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