Birthing Center Celebrates 20 Years of Service

Birthing Center staff members on hand for the 20th anniversary celebration and shown above are Karen Denny, Lynn Crouch, LuAnne Satchell, Paige Jefferson, Linda Warren, Sandy Simmons and Tammi Zalewski. Serving on the unit since it opened in 1996 are Jacalyn Bradley, Connie Edwards, Valerie Rice, Marion Lewis, Lorraine Brice, Debbie Correa and Karen Denny.

On January 16, 1996, the brand-new Birthing Center at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton welcomed little Pheobe Harper as the Center’s “firstborn” baby. Birthing Center staff members were still putting finishing touches in the Center’s rooms when they were alerted by Pheobe’s mother, Rhonda Harper – a nurse on the Birthing Center team – that the new arrival was imminent.

“The first delivery was going to be exciting for the team, but it was even more special since the mom was one of our own,” recalls Diane Walbridge, interim director, Acute Care and Emergency Services, who was manager of the Birthing Center at the time. Throughout the two decades — including more than 20,000 deliveries — since that happy event, members of the Birthing Center staff have stayed in touch with Rhonda, who now lives in Florida with her family where she has continued her career in maternity nursing and education.

Pheobe’s arrival was one of many wonderful memories shared at the Birthing Center’s recent 20th anniversary celebration. There was the “prom” that the staff organized for a young couple whose baby arrived in time to keep them from that special night with their peers, and the wedding – of a couple whose baby arrived the day before their scheduled nuptial — hosted by the Center and performed by then-chaplain for the hospital, Brian Childs.

The stories and observations shared at the event by Diane Walbridge,  Ruth Ann Jones, interim chief nursing officer, Patrick O’Brien, MD, Aisha Siddiqui, MD, Patti Willis, regional senior vice president, and a few of the longtime nurses on the unit reflected a common theme: the outstanding experience, dedication and expertise of the Birthing Center team. Said Dr. Siddiqui, who joined the celebration immediately following a C-section delivery, “The quality of care in the Birthing Center is absolutely amazing. The nurses and all the other staff on the unit give the best possible care from the moment the patient arrives. This is the best team I have ever worked with.”

In their remarks to the group, Ken Kozel, UM Shore Regional Health president and CEO, and Patti Willis both commented on the significance of the Birthing Center and its team as a key chapter in the histories of thousands of Eastern Shore families welcoming their baby daughters and sons, nieces and nephews, and grandsons and granddaughters. Ruth Ann Jones noted that for many families, the hospital where their babies are born becomes the family choice for their lifelong healthcare needs, making the Birthing Center and important start not only for a new life but for a long-term family health care tradition.

“I can’t say enough to thank the Birthing Center team for their outstanding service to our communities and the excellent work they do for mothers, babies and extended families in our five-county region,” says Ken Kozel. “The Birthing Center’s high regard in our community is well-deserved and I look forward to the team’s continued success in making the birth of a child – a profoundly important occasion in the life of every family – a happy and rewarding experience.”