McLaren’s Family Birth Place unit starts a new year with new equipment and updated facilities

Could there be a happier place on Earth than the maternity ward of a hospital?

Countless films and television shows have depicted the joy and jubilation of a maternity ward’s waiting room, an anxious family huddled around as a doctor or nurse comes out to share the good news of a newborn baby.

It’s yet another aspect of daily life that’s been taken away by the COVID-19 pandemic, the shouts of joy and congratulations, built up over hours of anticipation, dampened by restrictions on visitors put in place to ensure the health and safety of hospital guests and staff and to control the spread of the coronavirus.

“I look at the waiting room and a nurse that just started here, they don’t have the experience of going out there and getting to tell the family, of everyone getting excited. They miss out,” says Jennifer Emmert, nurse manager at the Miriam F. Acheson Family Birth Place at McLaren Port Huron.

Nurses, however, are quick to adapt. They’re used to change. It’s part of the job.

“We’re taking it as it comes, embracing change, and leaning on each other. And the patients themselves have done quite well,” Emmert says.

The Family Birth Place staff make up their own kind of family and, working with COVID-19 restrictions, have come up with new ways to spread the good news. Signs are held up in the windows to congratulate family members waiting outside the hospital. Cars have been decorated in celebration.

‘The latest, greatest technology’

The Miriam F. Acheson Family Birth Place at McLaren Port Huron has 18 labor and delivery rooms, a level one nursery, two OR suites, family center, and maternity care center. Childbirth education classes, typically held on site, have temporarily been moved online as a result of COVID-19.

Despite the hardships that COVID-19 wrought in 2020, the year was a relatively good one for the Family Birth Place, its patients and its staff. And the work that was done in 2020 promises to make 2021 and the years following even better.

That’s because the Family Birth Place was able to purchase an array of new state-of-the-art equipment for the ward, this thanks to the McLaren Port Huron Foundation, the members of its Cornerstone Club, its annual Golf Classic, and Dr. James C. Acheson.

“We were in need of some updated equipment and they made it possible to provide up-to-date and easily accessible services for our patients,” Emmert says.

Recently replaced equipment includes an overhead bili light, infant warmer, overhead warmer, vital sign machine, and pulse oximeters. The Family Birth Place also received 22 new bassinets designed specifically for McLaren Port Huron.

“We are so grateful for the equipment purchased with funds raised through McLaren Port Huron Foundation, it means so much to us at Miriam F. Acheson Family Birth Place,” says Emmert.

“As nurses we are always learning and evolving as is the equipment we use every day to care for our patients. The bassinets are beautiful, adjust in height, easy to clean, durable, push effortlessly down the hallway, and we feel a sense of pride when families place their newborns in our brand new bassinets.

“The additional equipment we received is beneficial to the care we provide our patients. The updated improvements allow us to deliver the latest, greatest technology and we are so thankful for all the donations and hard work that go into raising funds.”

Providing the Family Birth Place much-needed equipment like new warmers and bassinets is one of the reasons why the McLaren Port Huron Foundation exists. The foundation helps to raise funds for additions and upgrades for the nonprofit hospital.

It does so in a variety of ways. There are the big annual events like the Golf Classic, where tens of thousands of dollars are raised each year, and there are programs like the Cornerstone Club, where members provide an annual gift in increments of $100, $250, and $500.

For the staff at Family Birth Place, new equipment like the bassinets are a welcome addition. The old bassinets, though fine, had wooden elements that were much more difficult to clean when compared to the new ones, Emmert says. “This is really exciting for us because ours really were in need of being updated. We tried four different bassinets and found the one that we liked.”

More updates coming

Emmert first started as a nurse at Family Birth Place in 2003. She was promoted to nurse manager last year. She has watched the changes take place over the years, upgrades to equipment and the facility itself. Recent renovations transformed everything from the suites to the nurses’ station and lounge, including new flooring, windows, and more.

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2021, a notion made easier with the renovations and new equipment.

“We’re going to continue with some updates; we’re doing the showers right now. And then we’re just about to start delivering the Covid babies, the lockdown love children,” Emmert says.

One thing they’re definitely looking forward to, she says, is the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. It will be nice to hear families celebrating in the waiting room once again.

In the meantime, the staff at the Miriam F. Acheson Family Birth Place at McLaren Port Huron will continue to practice the utmost care in delivering babies amidst a pandemic. Work is currently underway on an obstetrics initiative to decrease c-section rates. And there are some painting projects to finish, too.

“We want patients to be excited to stay here,” Emmert says. “Our staff really does go above and beyond.”
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