by Jason P. Smith
What’s the best kept secret in this region’s health care community? Well, according to the staff at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center, it is both the level of care and the continuum of care offered at the hospital’s Mother and Child Hospital.
"This is the best kept secret in the entire region," said Rebecca Benoit, chief nursing officer at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s. "We are the only facility that can take care of the moms when they come in with high risk pregnancies – the mothers and the babies all stay under the same roof and can also come back later for pediatric care."
Presbyterian/St. Luke’s mother and child hospital has been called a "hospital within a hospital," due to the specialized level of care that is available. The 97-bed unit offers parents and their families the advantages of a large specialty hospital, while providing services of a free-standing children’s hospital.
Included in the Mother and Child Hospital is nearly 40 medical, surgical and specialty services that meet the needs of the whole child, including the physical, developmental and emotional aspects of the patient.
The hospital offers care through the Center for Maternal Fetal Care, the NICU and the PICU. There also is a pediatric intensivist on staff 24 hours a day.
"I think one thing that really separates us from other hospitals is the fact that our pediatric staff – both in pediatrics and the PICU – do everything," said Paulette Spiltler, RN, pediatric unit manager. "They can take care of any kind of sick child."
"We see anything from low risk to very high risk pregnancies and we take care of all of them," said Leslie Harden, patient care director for labor and delivery. "Everything is transferred into us – there is no higher level we can go to."
According to those who have worked in other facilities and now work at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s, there are a number of reasons they like where they work now.
"We have great team work and commitment here," said Jackie Ehlen, RN, NICU unit manager. "We have good communication with the moms. And in a level IV NICU, we provide any service, allowing the mom and baby to stay here together."
According to Mary Ellen Honeyfield, director of the NICU’s respiratory therapy, there is more at work than just good programs and good staff. "It’s a culture," she said. "I’d be hard-pressed to say how that culture evolved, but to say that it was the people who made it happen. Our standards are set at the top."
Those who have worked in other programs and then come to Presbyterian/St. Luke’s also see an opportunity to work with a strong and committed program.
Amy Berger, graduate NICU manager, just recently started working with Presbyterian/St. Luke’s and said she enjoyed her work with her previous program, but is looking forward to her opportunity to grow and learn in her new position.
"This has been a good move for me," Berger said. "I’m incredibly excited about being here."
The draw from this program also brings back those who have left and worked in other facilities.
"I started here in ’97 and then left to work in a children’s hospital in Houston for four years," said Laurel Sneddon, RN, PICU unit manager. "When I came back, without a doubt, I wanted to work here again. We are a family that takes care of family, and the atmosphere is more important than the walls."