At Anna Jaques Hospital (AJH), offering exceptional care has long meant providing for patients’ physical, emotional, and psychological needs. The team at AJH received a generous gift of $12,500 from the M&T Charitable Foundation that allows for trauma-informed care training for perinatal staff at the AJH Birth Center and Neonatal Care Center, as well as for staff at the hospital’s obstetrics and gynecology (Ob/Gyn) practice. This support follows the foundation’s 2022 gift of $12,500 to support efforts to provide safe and compassionate care to patients experiencing a mental health crisis in the Emergency Department. 

Trauma-informed care is an approach that acknowledges and addresses the impact of past trauma on a patient’s health and well-being. The goal is to provide care that is respectful, equitable, and supportive of patients who have experienced trauma. “In obstetrics and gynecology, this is particularly important,” explains Jane Kerr-Fernandez, MD. “We are seeing women at their most vulnerable times. Their past trauma impacts not only their healthcare experience, but also their health outcomes.”  

About 30 percent of women report that they’ve had physical, sexual, or psychological trauma. According to Kerr-Fernandez, trauma-informed care helps providers to see and acknowledge the importance of these past traumas, shifting the focus from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” The curriculum, provided by a renowned perinatal educator with decades of experience, includes training on trauma-informed and trauma-responsive care, health equity, implicit bias and systemic racism, care for families affected by substance use disorders, affirmative care for LGBTQ+ parents, and solution-focused communication. “We addressed so many areas, including social determinants of health and how that impacts pregnancies,” says Kerr-Fernandez. Deanna Pilkenton, Certified Nurse Midwife at AJH, was a key part of bringing the trauma-informed care training to AJH. “We learned about using language that’s open and inviting, allowing patients to communicate freely,” says Pilkenton. “Examining how our biases can impact how we interact with patients is so important, and we discussed how to mitigate this.”

Through didactic sessions and in-person interactive components, the training is designed to help providers and staff better understand a patient’s complete life situation, past and present, which is crucial for effective healing. “The M&T Charitable Foundation is proud to support the Anna Jaques Hospital’s efforts to ensure that perinatal and obstetrics and gynecology staff receive the necessary knowledge and tools to provide compassionate and sensitive care to their patients,” says Karen Galbo, New England Regional Manager for the M&T Charitable Foundation. “Empowering healthcare providers with trauma-informed care training is more than an investment in professional development; it’s a commitment to the entire North Shore community.”    

With these new skills, providers can continually advance their practice, ensuring that every patient who comes through their doors receives the respectful, equitable, and supportive care they deserve. The influence of trainings like this extends far beyond the walls of the hospital, empowering patients and providers alike. “We are so thankful for the M&T Charitable Foundation’s generosity. Philanthropy helps us to advance the impact of healthcare,” says Kerr-Fernandez.  



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