Medical Center Wants To Give Newborns Their Best Start



The birthing center is one of the most recently renovated units at Payson Regional Medical Center. The staff obstetrician, Dr. Cynthia Booth, considers it comparable to facilities available in Paradise Valley.

"The Payson Regional Medical Center is raising the bar on having babies," said Deborah Vandal, director of the hospital's Family Birthing Center.

"We're very excited about it," said Chris Wolf, PRMC CEO. "Since it reopened we have seen a 69 percent increase in deliveries and 99 percent patient satisfaction. We have great direction with Deborah Vandal. We're extremely pleased."

Everyone wants the "perfect pregnancy," but for some couples, the reality is a pregnancy with complications, Vandal said.

"These complications can vary from preterm birth, preterm labor, pregnancy induced hypertension or a baby with other complications," she said. "Many times the reasons are unknown."

The Family Birthing Center can make the difference in the outcome of a complicated pregnancy or birth.

Amy and Jack Lloyd can attest to it.

Amy was having a normal pregnancy for almost seven months. Then, on the first day of Amy's 28th week an unexpected complication brought Jackson Lloyd into the world on June 23.

"I had a critical case of pre-eclampsia onset," Amy said.

She had a checkup with her obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr. Cynthia Booth on Thursday, June 19, then worked all day Friday. That Saturday, she and Jack went to Phoenix to see a Diamondbacks game.

Amy said she felt fine, except for a slight headache when she went to bed. Shortly before midnight, she said she woke up to go to the bathroom and started hemorrhaging.

"We called the doctor to meet us at the hospital," she said. "It took us 15 minutes to get into town (the Lloyds live in Whispering Pines). We went into the ER and almost right away the nurses were getting the monitor on the baby and taking me into (the birthing center)."

Amy said the amount of blood she was losing made it difficult for the doctor to examine her. A helicopter was called in to take Amy to Phoenix to deliver.

"But we didn't make it. Every time my blood pressure went up, Jackson's heart rate dropped."

The baby was delivered with an emergency Caesarean section at 1:52 a.m. He weighed only 2 pounds and 3 ounces and was 15 inches long. He is now 16 pounds and 24 inches long. At seven months, he is only about 25 percent behind full-term babies in growth and development, Amy said.

A second helicopter was called in. Amy was taken to Maricopa County Hospital by one and the second, carrying neonatal intensive care unit personnel, took Jackson.

"Dr. Booth didn't think either of us would make it," Amy said. "If it wasn't for Dr. Booth, her knowledge and help, he may not have survived."

She said the PRMC people were fast, responsive, excellent, "and very good to me."

"They were very good to us too," Barbara Brewer, Amy's mother, said. "They kept calming us and explaining what was happening."

Brewer delivered Amy at the Payson hospital 28 years ago this month.

"They were as good to me then as they were to Amy with Jackson," Brewer said. "I'm so impressed by the staff's responsiveness, professionalism, good judgment and patience with us."

"The care in this hospital was excellent," Amy said. "I can't say enough."

Services offered

The PRMC Family Birthing Center provides the highest quality of perinatal services from its staff and physicians, Vandal said.

"Our family centered philosophy reflects the physical, social, psychological, spiritual and economic needs of the total family unit, however the family unit is defined," Vandal said. "Mother-baby couplet care is our focus. We provide a joint relationship between the childbearing woman, her family and physician."

During the stay at the birthing center, bedside care is received while teaching and experienced perinatal nurses do role modeling.

Births at the center in 2003 totaled 198, which broke a record at PRMC.

The perinatal staff sees about 445 pregnant women in outpatient visits for such things as preterm labor, flu, decrease in fetal movement and other pregnancy related issues. Most visits are easily treated and the woman goes home until it is time to deliver her baby. Some cases require more aggressive treatment to prevent an early birth before 37 weeks or to maintain fetal well-being. "Our physicians are experienced in the latest perinatal treatment, patient care and pediatric services to meet these special cases," Vandal said. "For instance, when Dr. Booth joined the staff, she brought her expertise in obstetrics and gynecology to the community."

Booth is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She has a growing practice and is well liked by the women she cares for and their families, Vandal said.

Dr. David Cluff, who has been practicing in Payson almost 10 years, uses the facility to provide quality care to his patients, Vandal said.

Several members of the perinatal staff are certified in their field of obstetrics and active members in the Association of Women's Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses. Included on the staff are a certified lactation consultant and a certified childbirth educator.

Additionally, the birthing center's nursery has the best equipment to manage infants that may have a difficulty adjusting outside the womb, Vandal said.

"The first 10 minutes after birth is the most difficult time a human will ever experience," Vandal said. "Even following open-heart surgery, it's not as difficult as the first 10 minutes of life."

Many infants are now able to receive more intensive care locally from Dr. Dexter DeWitt, Dr. Judith Hunt, Dr. Alan Michaels and Dr. Karen Evans.

Before the creation of the PRMC Family Birthing Center, these infants had to be sent to Phoenix, leaving mother and baby separated, Vandal said.

"Maintaining the family unit is important to us," she said.

It is still necessary to transfer some newborns and mothers.

"We are a small, rural facility, which can handle most pregnancy emergencies. But we cannot manage infants under 35 weeks of gestation that require intensive care or the pregnant mom that requires a high level of care to assure the best outcome for her baby," Vandal said, "Our experienced physicians and staff are here in your community to meet these emergencies and provide the optimal perinatal care to improve the outcome for the high-risk mother and newborn.

"Native Air and Air Vac provide the safest and quickest transportation to neonatal intensive care units and perinatal centers in the Phoenix area."

The birthing center offers many services to help women through their pregnancies from childbirth education, early pregnancy and newborn care classes, Vandal said.

Each class is designed to meet the needs of the childbearing woman and her physician.

For information about the birthing center, call PRMC at (928) 474-3222.

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