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VOL. 126 | NO. 97 | Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Birthing Tradition

Baptist Hospital for Women celebrates 10 years of babies

By Aisling Maki

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When expectant mother Aimee McMillan toured the Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women in 2002, she and her husband jokingly referred to the then-new facility as the “Mommy Marriott.”

Brandon and Aldridge Westrich are proud parents of one-day-old Landon Westrich, who was born at Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women. The hospital is celebrating its 10th anniversary. 
(Photo: Lance Murphey)

After checking in at the hospital’s spacious, spa-like lobby, she was moved into one of 23 labor and delivery rooms designed to be both high-tech and high-touch, with calming-colored, softly-lit rooms designed for comfort and convenience.

“When we arrived for the baby’s induction, we looked like we were checking into a resort for a movie shoot with three bags, a tripod, camera bag and probably a bag of snacks,” McMillan said. “As we left almost a week later, after I ended up with an emergency C-section and some minor complications, I remember that feeling of panic leaving such wonderful care and fabulous medical staff.”

McMillan’s birth story is one of tens of thousands that have taken place over the last decade at 6225 Humphreys Blvd. – inside the only free-standing women’s hospital in the Memphis area, one of only a handful of such hospitals in the nation.

This month, Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women, which opened in May 2001, celebrates a decade of delivering Mid-South babies – about 50,000 to date.

BMHW Administrator and CEO Anita Vaughn said that in the 1980s, free-standing women’s hospitals were more common. Through the 1990s, hospitals returned to combining services into one facility, but Baptist-Memphis bucked that trend when it decided to move its women’s health services to the other side of the campus.

“We truly feel that women are the health care decision-makers for their families,” said Vaughn, a registered nurse who’s been with Baptist for more than 30 years. “Making them healthy, giving them good information and making them have the best outcome possible affects their families and extended families. A lot of times, they’re sandwich-generation, not only taking care of their children, but also their parents and grandparents. They make those decisions.”

Vaughn said that when Baptist began to design and plan the new women’s hospital she “knew it was a quality project. I want it to look nice, calm you down, and let you know you’re in good hands.”

Roughly 5,000 babies are born annually at the hospital, which employs more than 300 nurses and works with roughly 500 doctors, including obstetrician-gynecologists, surgeons, pediatricians and anesthesiologists.

About 45 percent of women who deliver at the hospital are covered by TennCare or have received no prenatal care, Vaughn said.

And doctors are in-house 24 hours a day, seven days a week, prepared to handle “whatever walks through that door,” said Vaughn. “We have all the services we need to take care of these women and their babies.”

The facility’s neonatal intensive care unit has seen 6,000 babies over the past decade, including Hazel Kate Hackett, born just over one month ago.

“Not enough can be said for those labor and delivery nurses,” said mom Jessica Hackett. “The one who saw me through the actual push in particular was just phenomenal. As a first-time mom, I know I had a lot of trepidation that last few weeks of my pregnancy. I didn’t know how to push; I didn’t know what to expect.”

The delivery was a difficult one for baby Hazel, who experienced distress and suffered some trauma, including edema and bruising. The infant was placed in the care of the hospital’s NICU unit to be monitored for any possibility of infection.

“The whole experience – what could have been a very horrific experience – was actually pretty wonderful,” Hackett said. “It could’ve been very traumatic, but the nursing staff just really walked along side us and showed us how to do everything. We were coached through our first diaper change and how to feed our baby, so when we took her home a week later we were old pros.”

The hospital showcases many children who are former patients of the NICU unit on its Wall of Hope, where current photos of the children by local photographer Allison Rodgers appear next to their stories.

“That was just such tremendous inspiration. … It really does help you get through it,” said Hackett, who now serves on the hospital’s advisory board, which works to improve patient care.

In addition to delivering babies, BMHW provides a wide range of women’s health services, including gynecological surgeries, gynecologic oncology, plastic surgeries, ultrasounds and outpatient diagnostics.

The hospital also performs about 35,000 breast procedures each year, ranging from mammograms and diagnostics to biopsies and surgeries.

The hospital has also shown a commitment to the wider community through free patient and community outreach programs including teen pregnancy prevention, breast feeding and hormone therapy education, life balance seminars, prenatal classes and health screenings.

“We call it a decade of fulfilling promises – promises we made to be here for women with comprehensive services. We’ve been able to fulfill a lot of those, and we’re all about continuing improvement,” Vaughn said. “We try to be as transparent as possible about our incomes and what we’re doing for the community. Nothing puts a bigger smile on my face than knowing women want to be here.”

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