To better help answer your questions quickly, here are some of the Northwest Women’s Clinic most frequently asked questions. If you have a question that is not found on this page, please feel free to contact us at anytime. We are happy to help.

Office and Appointment Information

What do I need to do if I have an emergency or urgent concern after regular business hours?

If you’re one of our patients and you have an urgent concern that cannot wait until the next business day, call our office and our phones will be answered by a professional answering service that will page the doctor or midwife on call. If you believe you have a medical emergency, go to the emergency room or call 911.

How do I schedule an urgent appointment?

We’ll have you speak with one of our Advice Nurses who will assess your situation and determine the most appropriate next step, whether that’s an appointment, a referral, a prescription refill, etc.

Why am I asked to verify my identity so many times when I'm in the office?

Although it can be irritating, we may ask you to verify your name and birth date multiple times during a visit. For example, when checking in, in the exam room and when any samples are collected for lab tests. This is for your safety to prevent errors in diagnosis and treatment. By verifying your identity in this manner, we’re also complying with national patient safety goals.

Why do you scan my driver’s license into the system?

Scanning your driver’s license provides us a visual way to verify your identity to assure, for example, that someone else doesn’t attempt to receive medical services and/or insurance benefits under your name.

Why do you take a picture for my chart?

Taking your picture for your medical record is another way for us to visually verify your identity. You may upload your own picture through our patient portal or request that the picture be taken on another visit.

How do I get disability, FMLA or other forms completed?

Give your FMLA forms to your medical assistant. We will complete the forms request as soon as possible. Please let us know if you need them by a specific date.

How am I notified when my test results are in?

We usually notify patients of test results through our secure patient portal. You will receive an email message letting you know your results are available. Please call our office if you have not received your results within two weeks, or if you would like your results by phone in general.

What do I do to get my prescription refilled if it runs out before my next visit?

Call your pharmacy – even if you’re out of refills, they can send a request to us. Please also make sure to schedule your next appointment. Refill requests should be made during regular office hours. We recommend calling your pharmacy 2 business days or more before your medication is finished to ensure accurate and timely refills. Please allow 2 business days for refill requests.

You can also send a secure message on our PATIENT PORTAL to your provider or nurse regarding your prescription. This is usually a more direct and quicker route, however please allow 2 business days for refill requests.

We do understand there are times you may need to call our office and leave a message for our medical staff. Please plan ahead, for example, if you need a refill for the weekend – call the pharmacy Thursday morning.

Medical Records

How do I get my medical records?

To obtain your medical records you need to sign a Medical Records Release.  You can fill it out and mail or fax it to our office, and then we will process the request.

How long does it take to get my medical records transferred?

NWWC legally has 30 days to get your records to the person in the request form. However, we do try to get these requests completed as soon as they come in within a day or two of the request.

Do you charge for my medical records?

Our office does not charge our patients to send records to another medical office. However, there will be a charge of $30.00 for the first 10 pages and $.50 a page after that for records being sent for insurance, legal, or personal reasons.

In what avenues can you send my medical records?

We can either fax, mail, or you may hand pick up your records. We do not at this time have an easy way to email records in a safe and secure manner.

How do I have my medical records transferred to your office?

Call the office of the provider who has your records and follow their instructions.

Billing and Insurance

What is a co-pay?

A co-pay is the flat fee determined by your insurance company that you pay each time you receive medical care, usually between $10 and $50. Your copay is due at the time of service.

Do you charge a specialist co-pay for all visits?

Northwest Women’s Clinic is a specialist practice. However, co-pays are determined by your insurance company and many insurance companies require only a primary care co-pay for certain types of visits, such as annual exams.

What is co-insurance?

Co-insurance is the percentage of your medical bills that you have to pay, typically after you’ve paid your deductible.

What is a deductible?

A deductible is the amount you must reach before your insurance company starts paying for care.

Why didn’t my insurance pay?

Your insurance company processes claims based on your contract benefits and the best answer to this question will come from them.

How does Obstetrical Billing work?

A. In most cases we will bill your insurance a ‘global bill’ which will include all your prenatal visits, delivery and postpartum visit. The date of service for the global bill is the date your baby is born. The global charge does not include ultrasounds, lab work, injections, or additional office visits needed for non-obstetrical problems.

B. In the event that a patient has a change of insurance, or transfers care in or out of the clinic during the pregnancy, we will need to bill out the office visits and the delivery separately.

Did you already bill my insurance?

You will only receive a statement from us when you have a patient balance – an amount you’re responsible to pay. We will not bill you until your insurance company has reduced your balance, if appropriate, according to your contract benefits. If the insurance information we have on file for you is inaccurate or missing, call your doctor’s office.

Why is the hospital bill separate from yours?

While we have business arrangements with Legacy Good Samaritan, and Providence St. Vincent’s Medical Center to use their space and equipment, we are not part of the hospital system. We will bill you for the services we provide. The hospital will bill you separately for its services. You may also receive bills from additional providers outside of Northwest Women’s Clinic, such as an anesthesiologist and pediatrician.

Your office called my insurance before I had the IUD placed, and they said I would only have to pay a co-pay; why is the balance so large?

When Northwest Women’s Clinic checks your benefits before an IUD placement, your insurance company provides us with an estimate of your benefit – they won’t guarantee what the final charges will be. Many things can affect your final responsibility, including the timing of the procedure compared to the date we checked your benefits and how that relates to your plan’s benefit year.

Please call your insurance company if you have questions.

Is this provider contracted with my insurance company?

Northwest Women’s Clinic contracts with insurance companies as a group, for the most part, meaning if one of our providers is contracted, they all are. Contact your insurance company to verify your coverage.

On my statement it says that I am in review for collections; why? I’ve paid my bills on time.

‘In review for collections’ is a statement generated by our billing software that we cannot remove. It is automatically included on your statement when you have a balance that is past 90 days due based on the date the balance was first billed to you.

Do I need a referral to see your provider?

Some insurance plans require a referral to see a specialist, so it will be your responsibility to inquire with your insurance and PCP if a referral is needed. We will do our best to let you know ahead of time if we think you will need a referral.

Gynecology 

We highly value the opportunity to help keep healthy women healthy, and a well woman exam is one of our best tools to accomplish this.

What to Expect on Your First Gynecologic Visit

Many women and girls find a first gynecologic visit intimidating. As providers, we understand, and strive to make each and every visit as comfortable as possible. Some women are surprised to discover that the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends a first papanicolaou (pap) test at age 21. There are a variety of reasons to see a gynecologist, including well woman exams, menstrual concerns, fertility concerns, pelvic pain, and visits for contraception.

For a first visit with us, please schedule time ahead of your appointment to complete paperwork, either online or in person. Please bring important written questions or concerns with you, we will be happy to answer them! You will be meeting your provider in a comfortable relaxed setting before having to change out of your clothes. Some first visits are complete in this stage and no exam is necessary. Other times, an appropriate examination is required.

How Long is the Appointment?

Usually a complete well woman examination lasts about twenty or thirty minutes, with the majority of the visit time scheduled for discussion of concerns, or answering questions. Results from the pap test or other results are available within a week or two most of the time, and will be posted to the patient portal. You MUST check the patient portal, or contact our office for your results.  We highly value the opportunity to help keep healthy women healthy, and a well woman exam is one of our best tools to accomplish this.

What is Involved in the Well Woman Exam?

Generally a complete well woman exam involves all the elements of a physical exam, including a clinical breast examination, and a pelvic examination. The pelvic examination includes examination of the uterus and ovaries, and if necessary a Papanicolau (pap) smear.

How often should I get a pap smear?

Northwest Women’s Clinic strongly recommends annual exams for all women. A pap test is only one component of your health that is discussed at an annual exam.

For your information, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recently changed its guidelines for when women should begin getting pap tests and how often they should be performed.

Begin pap screening at 21 years of age regardless of sexual activity (only 0.1% of cervical cancer occurs before the age of 21)

If previous pap smears are normal for the last three years future tests should be performed:

Every two years for women age 21-29
Every three years for women over age 30

More frequent screening may be needed in certain circumstances. Talk to your provider at your annual exam to determine how frequently you should get a pap test.

Obstetric Care

Congratulations! You are either planning to become pregnant, or you are pregnant and we are excited about caring for you during this exciting time in your life.

What should I do if I think I’m pregnant?

Congratulations! If you think you’re pregnant, call us right away! We’ll help you find a provider that meets your needs and we’ll get you scheduled for you first appointment.

What is going to happen at my first obstetric visit?

At your first obstetric visit, we will draw labs, discuss your medical history and provide valuable prenatal education to help you get the healthiest start possible to your pregnancy.

We also like to perform ultrasound to evaluate the pregnancy and establish a due date. For obstetric care, we have physician providers and certified nurse midwives. Generally all providers care for patients with low risk conditions. For higher risk pregnancies, most women will see or at least consult with physician providers. Some examples are women who are carrying twins, have significant medical conditions during pregnancy such as thyroid disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or history of previous cesarean deliveries or uterine surgery.

Your provider will review your complete medical history, do an examination if needed, and review ultrasound results with you. Most of our patients have lots of questions. We schedule appropriately so there will be ample time to answer your questions.

Schedule

To standardize and precisely date each pregnancy, we use “weeks” and days pregnant as opposed to “months.” Pregnancy starts with the first day of the last menstrual period, and lasts an average of 40 weeks which is also the “due date.” Of course, most women actually become pregnant about two weeks after the last menstrual period. The system we use is historical from before ultrasound and highly sensitive lab tests were used, and the last period was the most reliable method for “dating the pregnancy”.

We recommend a first visit around 8 weeks, and then a visit every 4 weeks until about 28 weeks. Following that, we see pregnant patients every 2 weeks until 36 weeks, then weekly thereafter until delivery. If a higher risk pregnancy is noted, additional or more frequent visits may be required. Another term you may hear is “Trimesters” which divide pregnancy into thirds. These are generally 13 weeks long, with the last being 14. For example 0-13 weeks is the first trimester, 14 to 26 weeks is the second trimester, and 27 weeks on is the third trimester. We consider a “term” gestation to be 37 weeks or later, and “full term” to be 39 weeks, with a due date on the 40th week.

Is there an ultrasound at the first obstetric visit with my provider?

Yes, usually NWWC does schedule a first trimester ultrasound along with your first new OB visit. It is important to remember that this is a medical test that could be used to confirm your due date, evaluate maternal and fetal anatomy and evaluate amniotic fluid and placenta. An additional ultrasound will be performed at approximately 20 weeks to look at the baby’s anatomy. Due to NWWC’s policy, there is no video taping or photography allowed during the ultrasound examinations.

How do I prepare for an ultrasound?

A full bladder is typically needed for portions of a pelvic ultrasound examination. Be sure to drink plenty of fluid in the hour or so leading up to your appointment. Typically, 16 to 24 ounces consumed an hour before your exam is sufficient.

Although a full bladder allows better visualization of the lower uterus and cervix, severe discomfort can indicate overfilling of the bladder and is not necessary to complete the exam. If this occurs, empty your bladder and continue sipping fluids.

Due to NWWC policy, there is no video taping or photography allowed during any ultrasound examination. However, NWWC does have USB drives available for purchase for $5.00 if you would like pictures and/or videos downloaded for your future viewing pleasure.

Do I see the same provider throughout my pregnancy? Does this provider deliver my baby?

Yes, usually you see the same provider throughout your pregnancy. Our providers pride themselves in delivering most of their own patient’s babies. The health of you and your baby is our highest priority; therefore, it’s important for you to understand how we work as a seamless team. If your provider is out for a delivery or on vacation, we will offer you see another provider in our office during these occasions.

Pregnancy “Do’s and Don’ts

Most pregnant women are told lots of “rules” from books, the internet, and friends and family about what is safe in terms of diet, exercise, and activity during pregnancy. What follows here is a discussion of common “rules” people hear and our philosophy for keeping you and the baby safe.

Sexual Activity

Intercourse (sexual activity) is considered safe throughout pregnancy except in rare individuals with high risk conditions (placenta previa, preterm labor or ruptured membranes, and cervical incompetence.)

Your provider will tell you when it is not safe to have sexual relations. Intercourse often causes mild spotting or light bleeding especially in the first trimester. In the absence of worsening cramping, this is normal and does not require an emergency room visit. The surface cells on the cervix are highly hormone sensitive, and pregnancy commonly makes these cells bleed when disturbed by pap smears, exams, or intercourse. This does not pose a risk to the fetus. In the latter part of pregnancy, intercourse often causes contractions. Experts do not believe that intercourse causes labor.

Exercise

Exercise is recommended during pregnancy, including aerobic and non-aerobic workouts. We do not recommend any activities that could be “dangerous” such as contact sports, sports with big pressure changes (such as scuba diving or skydiving,) or sports which are likely to cause injury. I tell my skiers and snow-boarders that you may be the best skier in the world and still get hit by the worst skier on the slopes.

It IS safe to have a heart rate over 140, but we recommend you should discontinue aerobic exercise that you cannot talk through, or if you feel short of breath or lightheaded. For weight lifting, exercise that you can “breathe” through without grunting or holding your breath is recommended. Breathing through the exercise is recommended for pilates and yoga as well as weightlifting.

Healthy Diet and Weight Gain

We recommend eating a balanced and healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and rich in complex carbohydrates. Most pregnant women experience some cravings as well as some food aversion during pregnancy, and this is normal.

A guideline for “ideal body weight” for women before pregnancy is the following formula. For women over 5 feet tall, start with 100 pounds for 5 feet, then add 5 to7 pounds for each inch over 5 feet to determine an ideal body weight range. For example, a woman who is 5 feet 6 inches should weigh 100 + 30 to 42: so her ideal body weight is 130 to 142 pounds or so.

For women starting pregnancy at a normal weight, women will likely gain between 25 and 35 pounds. For overweight women, 15 to 25 pounds of weight gain is recommended. For obese/severely overweight women, under 15 pounds is recommended. For women under their ideal body weight, 35 to 40 pounds are recommended.

Dietary Risks

Many women are concerned about eating fish. On the one hand, oily fish like cod and salmon are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which are very healthy and essential to growth of normal brain and nerve cells. On the other hand, all fish have some level of mercury – an environmental toxin which is higher in longer-lived, top predator fish.

Generally, large, long-lived fish like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and large tuna are higher risk. Higher risk fish can be consumed safely at 2 servings (about 6 ounces) weekly without great concern.

Lower risk fish, such as local salmon, cod, halibut, and shellfish, can be consumed safely up to 5 times per week. “What about sushi?” Well, consumption of raw seafood puts people at risk of two main infectious risks: a food poisoning producing vomiting and diarrhea (low risk overall), and a very low risk of parasites (worms). While these are both treatable in pregnancy, many experts recommend avoiding sushi or raw shellfish entirely. We recommend you discuss this with your individual provider.

More dietary risks: 

Pregnant women are 10 to 30 times more likely than non-pregnant women to get food poisoning. Most bacterial food poisoning is mild and self limited. One exception is a bacterium called Listeria Monocytogenes. This organism causes severe illness and even death in a high percentage of infected individuals. The infection can harm or kill a developing baby.

It is an organism found on animal skin (barnyards.) As a result, this can infect unpasteurized milk products (raw or fresh cheese) or appear in mixed meats which are not cooked at high temperature (smoked or cured meats.) We recommend consuming only pasteurized milk products and well cooked meats. A cold turkey, ham, or roast beef sandwich is extremely unlikely to be contaminated and is considered safe. Consult with your provider for more information.

The Importance of Hydration

Pregnant women commonly have dizziness especially in the second trimester. This is due to the hormone progesterone, which relaxes little muscles surrounding the arteries. This results in a lower overall blood pressure. To decrease the effects, we recommend good hydration during pregnancy.

Another excellent way to combat dizziness is to change a portion of fluid intake to an electrolyte containing beverage (Gatorade, Powerade, or similar). The easiest way to determine if a woman is well hydrated is to examine her urine. Should the urine be light in color, this is an excellent sign of good hydration.

Medication Safety

In order to label a medication “safe,” a drug manufacturer must extensively test and study a medication in a specific patient population. It is neither ethical or advisable to do this in pregnant women. As a result, the only “safe” medication in pregnancy is prenatal vitamins, which have been tested in this way. This does NOT mean that no other medications are safe, only that they cannot be labelled for pregnancy. We have extensive databases regarding medications and risk posed to mother and developing babies. Please inform your provider about any medication you may be taking at a first visit. We welcome questions about medication safety prior to pregnancy as well, and love “preconceptual visits,” for this purpose.

In regards to medications we recommend, we generally stick to medications categorized as “category B.” Category B medicines have a long history of safe use in pregnancy, with no associated concerns for birth defects, developmental problems, or harm to mother or fetus. These medications have been extensively observed in humans, and also no animal testing (such as in pregnant rats) has shown harm. Many of these medications are administered to newborn infants. Tylenol, most antihistamines, and penicillin are some examples. Please ask us about safe medication use in pregnancy, and call us with questions!

Northwest Women's “Call Schedule”

One of our greatest sources of pride as providers at Northwest Women’s Clinic is that we take a personal interest in being available for our own patients. Over 7 in 10 women in our care are delivered by the individual provider caring for each patient. This means that your provider would be available any day that he or she works in clinic, and after hours too!

How can we do this?

Each provider takes “call” for his or her patients every day that the provider works. For days off, weekends, and holidays, there is a “backup” on call provider. Midwife patients generally are cared for by their midwife, or a backup midwife. However, the backup is occasionally one of our physicians. Physicians are always available for a high risk pregnant woman or a midwife patient needing specialized intervention.

We carefully have crafted our practice and partners so we have a very similar medical management for patients. While we have different personal styles, our medical management is very standardized. This ensures top-notch care no matter which provider you visit. The “down side” to our constantly striving to care for our own patients is the risk of a changing provider schedule. Many times we are called out of clinic for deliveries or emergencies, and that means patient schedules often get rearranged. We apologize for any inconvenience, and endeavor to give patients excellent options for either shifting appointment times, rescheduling, or occasionally seeing another provider for scheduled visits when their personal provider is not available.

How Do I Contact My Provider?

We keep the process simple. Calling the main clinic phone number 24 hours per day will get you in touch with us. During clinic hours, our medical assistants and providers are available. Providers usually are limited in returning phone calls at break times or after clinic. As a result, a “best bet” with a question or concern is to discuss this with our trained medical assistant staff. For more complex concerns, providers make every effort to return phone calls in a timely fashion, but because they also may be called out of clinic for emergencies or deliveries, not all calls are answered on the day of the call. After hours, an “answering service” answers calls from the same phone number, and then contacts your provider via pager or cellular phone.

After hours phone calls should be urgent or emergency type calls (calls that cannot wait until the next clinic day). We strive to answer all phone calls and concerns in a timely manner. Occasionally a provider is in a delivery or surgery and may take more than 30 minutes to respond. Please call back should there be any delay. We will call you back!

Overall, we are honored and excited to provide pregnancy care for our patients. We look forward to aiding in the healthiest outcomes for mothers, infants, and families.


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