New ROAM-SP program to support local maternity services closer-to-home

Photo: Nate Grigg

RCCbc is launching an exciting new program –  the Rural Obstetrical and Maternity Sustainability Program (ROAM-SP) – to enable the delivery of sustainable rural maternity services in BC by identifying, developing, and supporting peer, facility, and regional networks.  

ROAM-SP was developed as a response to several challenges in rural maternity services in B.C. The program will create connections and enhance team approaches for maternity care providers across BC’s eligible level 1a and 1b rural communities with planned obstetric services. To ensure the successful implementation of this program, RCCbc brought together an interdisciplinary team that is passionate about sustaining rural maternity healthcare in BC: obstetrician Dr. Heather Gottlieb; registered midwife Lee Yeates; registered nurse Andrea Mckenzie; family physicians Drs. Jeanette Boyd and Dietrich Furstenburg; and, project coordinator Tatiana Ticona.   

The uniqueness of ROAM-SP lies in how the program “strives to support communities to provide obstetrical services from a community, team based and interdisciplinary perspective while addressing site-specific needs,” according to Dr. Furstenburg. Examples of how ROAM-SP might support local providers include such activities as: addressing holistic team-based risk discussions and care planning; supporting the optimization of individual team member strengths as well as team dynamics; and, supporting community discussions to develop strategies for sustaining local obstetrical services. “The initiative aims to establish and maintain an environment in which all obstetrical providers feel safe, well supported and happy to work in, as well as an environment to which external providers would be attracted to.”   

ROAM-SP has three main elements: 

Peer, Facility, and Regional Network Identification, Enhancement, and Support

The main activities being facilitated through this element are:  

  • community-specific mapping of low-risk and high-risk maternity services, supports, and resources for use by providers and families  
  • CPD events/workshops that meet the learning objectives of rural maternity care providers 
  • community-driven Network Development Initiatives designed to foster team collaboration and enhance team function and sustainability to better meet the needs of patients.  

Obstetrical Team Peer Coaching

  • Providing coach training orientation and learning resources that can be adapted to meet the needs of each community’s unique maternity teams. This element will be delivered through UBC Rural CPD’s Clinical Coaching for Excellence stream, which is currently providing high quality coaching and mentoring support to RCCbc’s Rural Surgical and Obstetrical Networks (RSON) project.  

Real Time Virtual Obstetrics Support

Implementation activities for ROAM-SP are being funded by the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues (JSC) from 2019 through to 2021. The ROAM-SP team is aiming to support all 31 communities eligible for the program, although priority will be given to 1a communities due to their increased vulnerability to potential maternal health service loss. Program initiatives will be co-created by local communities and for local communities, specifically designed to meet their particular needs. A strong emphasis will be placed on strengthening local rural healthcare teams, enabling them to continue the work started by the program.  

ROAM-SP will be evaluated on a regular basis, both to monitor and report on progress made, and to additionally ensure that the lessons learned from the communities are shared with relevant stakeholders. 

If you would like to learn more about ROAM-SP, please join one of the information webinars we will be holding on the following dates: 

  • Monday, March 2 – 8:00 – 9:00 am 
  • Tuesday, April 14 – 8:00 – 9:00 am 

To register for the above webinars, or to learn more about ROAM-SP, please contact Tatiana Ticona, Project Coordinator, at