She Watches Over High-Risk Mothers And Babies

Emily Roberts, CNS, has a passion for obstetrics and making changes to provide the highest-level of care possible to those tiny newborns and their moms.

Inside labor and delivery rooms, in the halls of the mother baby unit, joy overflows. New babies born to healthy moms. Sweet cries and gleeful tears.

But it’s not always happy there. Unexpected outcomes. Very sick mothers. Infant deaths.

“In OB, we expect to see a great outcome,” says Emily Roberts, clinical nurse specialist, labor and delivery and mother baby, at IU Health Methodist Hospital. “And when we don’t get that, it changes everyone.”

And so, Roberts’ passion, her mission every single day is to make sure those mothers and babies have the best care, the best outcomes and that they go home together. 

Methodist is a Level IV perinatal center, the highest level that can be reached. Roberts came to IU Health nearly three years ago, bringing her passion for high-risk obstetrics.

“When you take a mom out of the equation in a baby’s life, that is so gut wrenching,” she says. “We do everything to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Her nursing start: Roberts was in nursing school and had just turned 22 when her father died of a pulmonary embolism. She chose to start her nursing career in the adult intensive care unit because of that. “I didn’t know all that had occurred and what had happened,” she says. “I chose that so I could get some closure.”

Moving to moms and babies: When Roberts gave birth to her own first baby, a son, on Labor Day, she got a taste of that unit and thought, “This is where I want to be.” “I honestly didn’t like OB at first because I missed my adrenaline rush and all my acute care,” she says. “But then it ended up this is where I felt the most comfortable. I came to love OB.” 

Stepping away from the bedside: “I miss deliveries like no other. That was really hard to step away from the bedside. I knew I had a passion set and I knew, in many cases, I was the only positive thing in that woman’s life,” Roberts says. “But now I get to fulfill that in a different way. Ultimately, what I do does reach the patient and makes a big difference.”

Her role: “What I focus on is perinatal safety, ensuring patients are safe — moms and babies. It is very outcome driven focusing on evidence-based practice and ensuring our patients receive the very best care and that we have the resources and tools for healthy care teams,” she says. “In essence, there are three spheres of influence — patient population, elevating the nursing practice and a system wide role. When changes are being made throughout healthcare, we want to make sure our voice is heard and we are incorporating that.”

Favorite part of her job: “I love seeing the entire multidisciplinary team working together to ensure the best care for that exact patient,” Roberts says. “I love it when all the work we are doing is actively making a difference in someone else’s life.”

Critical focus: “Of everything that is happening right now with maternal mortality rates, our moms are sicker. They have chronic issues,” Roberts says. “We have a sicker generation that needs attention and we need to figure out why. There are preemies now having babies, older moms older having babies. There are a lot of contributing factors.”

More with Roberts

Personal: Roberts is married to Michael and lives in Zionsville. They have three children: Noah, 8, Tessa, 6, and Georgia, 1. 

Outside of IU Health: She loves spending time with family, watching her kids play sports, going to Florida and hanging out with neighbors and friends.

An even bigger cause: Roberts is extremely involved in making a difference and improving maternal and infant health beyond IU Health. She is involved at the state level as co-chair of the Hemorrhage Task Force; she is part of the Maternal Mortality Review; and she is involved with the Indiana Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative.

— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Benbow via email or on Twitter @danabenbow.