Family Values: The Women & Children's Center Encourages Bonding Between Parents & Their New Babies
As generations of families have continued to sink roots in the Vail Valley, the local birthing center has maintained a high standard of personalized care for the community.
The Women and Children’s Center at Vail Valley Medical Center has developed a pediatric hospital-based program within a state-of-the-art facility, making it an ideal place to go for obstetric and neonatal care.
“The emphasis of the program is on very high quality care of newborns,” said Dr. Jeff Brown, pediatric hospitalist and director of the program. “It’s a unique program for a hospital in an area the size of the Vail Valley.”
The center has created a high-quality and comprehensive program that aims to provide the highest care in a nurturing and pleasant environment.
“Having a baby is a very special time for families, and we want to make the experience as pleasant and personable as possible,” Brown said.
The staff of obstetricians, pediatricians, lactation consultants, neonatal nurse practitioners and staff nurses works together to exceed this expectation of care.
“It’s a close relationship between physicians, the nurse practitioners and the nursing staff,” Brown said. “There are members of this staff that have had more than 25 years of service providing obstetrical and newborn care.”
Centered Around Care
Kathy Roper is one of the center’s full-time neonatal nurse practitioners. She says that between the neonatal nurse practitioners, there is more than 90 years of combined experience.
“You are adding up a lot of years of time in this field,” Roper said. “Vail wants the highest quality of nurse practitioners up here to be able to handle any situation that comes our way.”
Roper came from a large birthing center with an average of 9,000 deliveries a year, and she says the smaller volume allows the staff to be very focused on the babies and their families.
“Here in our nursery, we can handle up to six babies at a time,” Roper said. “The quality of personal attention that we can give to babies and to the parents is huge.”
The center emphasizes personalized care, Roper says, and the staff has time to talk to parents and teach them about their newborns. The nursing staff works at the bedside with families, and the neonatal nurses spend their time in the nursery for more extensive newborn care.
“To be able to give so much quality time and attention to the parents and the babies is a big plus here,” Roper said.
Best of the West
Roper said the center strives to have as many babies as possible stay in the Vail Valley once they enter the world here.
“We run this program in close collaboration with the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children,” Brown said. “In the event that the babies need a higher level of care than they can get at this hospital, we transfer them to Denver.”
Parents can be confident that they will get the care necessary for their babies in every possible circumstance.
It’s not just Vail Valley residents who are coming to VVMC for care. Brown said an increasing number of parents are coming to the valley for their obstetric and neonatal needs.
“We find more and more moms from Summit are coming to this center to deliver,” Brown says.
Continuity of Care
At VVMC’s Women and Children’s Center, the staff wants the parents to feel as comfortable as possible birthing their babies. That’s why the rooms feel homey and personable.
The facility is designed to ensure continuous contact and involvement with their families, newborns and support people. Patients feel more secure and comfortable in a home-like setting, and therefore gain a greater sense of physical and emotional well-being.
The labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum rooms have been created to encourage early bonding between parents and newborns. Keeping your infant in the room with you until discharge is encouraged. This “rooming in” practice has been shown to improve breast-feeding rates, sleep ability and parent-infant bonding.
“The rooms are comfortable and the views are just spectacular,” said new mom Kristin Anderson, who gave birth to Anya Katherine in October. “It’s really neat how the room transforms from a hotel room to a birthing room.”
But after the baby’s been born and the birthing equipment is rolled away, it’s back to being a private room for mom, baby and the rest of the family.
“There were so many nurses, and they were very attentive,” Anderson said.
If an infant is born and requires more care in the nursery, parents are able to come in and out of the nursery as often as they please. If a baby needs care for an extended period, a comfortable room is offered to the parents, just steps away from their baby.
Roper points out that the neonatal practitioners maintain a schedule that allows them to create what is known as continuity of care — nurses work for several days in a row to ensure a consistent presence with newborns and their families.
Brown and Roper both acknowledge the staff as a close-knit and professional community. Brown said the physicians, neonatal nurse practitioners and nursing staff all work together to provide the most cohesive program possible.
“We always work as a team,” Roper said. “We all share the responsibility for every baby that is on our floor.”