Frequently Asked Questions
What is a doula?
The term doula is most widely used to describe a skilled childbirth coach who assists women in the process of giving birth. Childbirth doulas are non-medical providers who meet with families before the birth to prepare and educate clients for the birth process, join the family during labor and birth, and provide postpartum support to help the family adjust. In the past few years, new kinds of doulas have emerged to meet the needs of people who want a more personalized and personable approach to health care beyond childbirth.
Doulas provide physical comfort, emotional support, and evidence-based information in the context of a health care system that often cannot provide individualized support. At Accompany Atlanta, we’ve expanded the doula model of care to all people in need of critical care. Our critical-care doulas have been trained to fully understand the way the doula model can benefit anyone facing medical challenges. We believe that caring for the whole person, not just the medical condition, gives our clients the best, most comprehensive care.
Can critical-care doulas help make medical decisions?
Our critical-care doulas do not provide medical care or medical advice. We never make medical decisions for our clients or intervene in the patient-doctor relationship. Accompany Atlanta prioritizes employing doulas with strong listening skills who are able to effectively communicate with various stakeholders. An essential element in receiving great health care is finding ways to communicate effectively with your medical team; the doulas at Accompany Atlanta can help facilitate these conversations. We’ll help you present a complete and up-to-date picture of your health so your doctors can respond with the most appropriate course of care. We’ll help you formulate questions for your medical team, so you can leave appointments and doctor visits with the information you need to make better decisions. When particularly thorny medical questions or diagnoses arise, we’re happy to introduce you to our medical librarians, who are able to gather information specifically tailored for you from sources you can trust.
How is this different from a hospital sitter?
Many hospitals in Atlanta, and across the country, recognize significant gaps in patient care. Hospital units are understaffed, and patients can go long periods of time without seeing a medical provider; this is especially true in emergency rooms. Research has shown that sitter services significantly improve patient outcomes and lower risk factors for accidents and falls.
Unfortunately, sitters are in short-supply at hospitals, if they’re available at all. Most sitters work daytime hours and are typically low-wage employees, which means high turnover and unpredictable staffing.
Accompany Atlanta provides dependable, around-the-clock critical-care doulas who arrive with a wealth of knowledge about our clients’ comfort and care. We communicate professionally with hospital staff, so our clients get the best care possible. And, most importantly, we’re accountable only to our clients and their trusted family members—not the hospital.
Can critical-care doulas drive clients to the hospital or appointments?
Accompany Atlanta doulas may not drive our clients in their personal vehicles. Upon a client’s release from the hospital, our doulas will arrange cabs, or a ride-sharing service, and accompany the client to make sure they arrive home safely. Doulas attending scheduled doctor appointments will meet clients at the appointment, or if preferred, accompany the client in a cab or ride-sharing service. Clients will be invoiced separately for the cost of transportation, if they do not have a Lyft, Uber, or cab account.
Does Accompany Atlanta provide in-home services?
At this time, Accompany Atlanta does not provide in-home services. We know in-home health care is in high demand, but we choose to stay laser-focused on the critical-care aspect of our service. We’re happy to help you connect with resources in the area, if needed.
What happens if the client doesn’t go to the hospital this year or use all of the 12 hours?
In a perfect world, no one would ever need to make a trip to the emergency room—or arrive alone. If you don’t make any unscheduled trips to the hospital, we’ll happily apply your 12 hours of in-person support toward accompanying you to doctor visits or other scheduled appointments. You may use these hours anytime within the 12 month subscription period or for 2 months after the current subscription period expires.
How long will critical-care doulas be with me/my loved one?
If family members cannot arrive within 12 hours, Accompany Atlanta will make arrangements to extend our services (on an hourly basis), or we’ll facilitate the transfer of care to another trusted caregiver.
Who do we call if we need you?
Our critical-care doulas will cover the nuts-and-bolts of communication in our first home-visit. We’ll give you our 24-hour hotline number to add to your contacts list on your phone or address book. We also have a handy magnet with our number that you can place on your refrigerator, so our number is always nearby. We’ll also make sure family members know how to call us, since they’re often the first people notified in an emergency. If clients live in a senior living community, or other care facility, we’ll let the staff and administrators know how to contact us, in the event that our clients leave for the hospital directly from the facility.
Can I buy this service as a gift for someone?
Yes, we encourage family members to purchase subscriptions for their loved ones—after all, you’re purchasing peace of mind for the whole family! We won’t charge you until all parties have agreed to the terms of the service detailed in our contract. We want our clients, and their families, to be fully informed customers, so we won’t charge a dime until everyone is on board.
How do you protect private medical information?
One of the provisions of HIPAA—and perhaps the most well-known among consumers—is the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which regulates who can look at and receive your individually identifiable health information. The HIPAA Privacy Rule applies to all forms of protected health information, whether electronic, written, or oral. HIPAA requires “covered entities” like doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies to protect individual’s private health information. Critical-care doulas are not considered a covered entity and are not bound by HIPAA regulations. However, we take client confidentiality very seriously and hold ourselves to HIPAA standards. We keep all health information in password protected sites, and we never share personal information with anyone outside of our company. Our clients determine who we can share information with; family members will be notified in advance if our clients have given us permission to share information with them. One of the real benefits of working with Accompany Atlanta is our ability to share and receive real-time information when our clients enter a hospital; we’ll make sure that the right people are contacted and given the most up-to-date information, always keeping our client’s preferences at the center of our decision making.