A clinic devoted to early pregnancy assessments is helping women who have medical complications get necessary care in a timely and sensitive way.

The clinic, at the Regina General Hospital, is the first of its kind in Saskatchewan and can be a valuable alternative, where appropriate, to going to the hospital's emergency department.

One thing the clinic can do is provide more timely access to care. So far, women arriving at the clinic face an average wait time that's more than three hours shorter than the average emergency room wait.

"I always thought we could streamline care for these people and prevent the wait times that currently exist in our system," said Dr. Corrine Jabs, head of obstetrics and gynecology for the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region.

dr. corrine Jabs

Dr. Corrine Jabs is head of obstetrics and gynecology for the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region. (CBC)

The new care setting is especially helpful for women facing a miscarriage.

"We have private rooms," said Jabs. "We have a nurse who's used to seeing women with these problems and asks the appropriate questions and arranges the appropriate tests."

Jabs said if a complication leads to a miscarriage, the clinic is well-suited to meeting all of the needs of the patient, from the physical to the emotional.

Sensitive staff

Laura Strem has suffered through a miscarriage three times. While each case was a devastating experience, Strem said her visit to the Early Pregnancy Assessment Centre in August offered many supports that weren't available in the emergency room.

Plus, in the dedicated clinic staff were sensitive to what she was going through.

Laura Strem

Laura Strem has experienced three miscarriages and found that care in the new clinic was especially sensitive to her emotional needs. (CBC)

Strem recalled how treatment for her first miscarriage, in the emergency department, was very different.

"To be treated at the hospital as less on the priority list or maybe by doctors and nurses who, through no fault of their own, don't have the sensitivity to deal with the issues that you're going through, it's a really devastating and lonely experience," Strem said. "It's not just about your physical needs, there are emotional needs as well."

Strem said one time, she was moved to a room with six other people who were waiting for followup care and testing.

"Well, I can tell you those six other people were not there because of pregnancy loss," she said. "Maybe they were waiting for X-rays or it could have been any number of medical issues, but we were the only ones sitting in that room with our hearts broken and crying our eyes out and there was nothing that anyone could do for us.

"It was just the wrong setting for someone experiencing a devastating loss like that."

The clinic opened in May and has had more than 800 visits.

"I've been working on this project for a long time," Jabs said. "Our clinic has the broadest depth of care of any of the clinics that I've seen and it's because we want to pull women out of the emergency room."

With files from Tory Gillis