Nurses treasure opportunity of working with newborns

Published 7:30 am Wednesday, December 22, 2021

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For the registered nurses of Andalusia Health’s Birthing Center, any opportunity of bringing a newborn into the world is priceless.

Birthing Center Director Danielle Rodgers wanted to show her appreciation to her nurses in time for Christmas. Each nurse was presented with a pink or blue ornament to represent each baby they have witnessed during their tenure at the hospital.

“Being a nurse right now is difficult. Being a healthcare worker in any capacity is difficult especially in this new pandemic. Our job allows us to be a part of bringing joy and hope for a future into this chaotic world. We get to be observers of one of the most sacred moments in life. We get to watch as a person becomes his or her own separate being apart from the womb. We witness and take part in the crushing load of heartbreak when there is unforeseeable loss,” Rodgers said.

Reports indicate the devoted staff of nurses at the Birthing Center collectively have introduced 5,603 boy and 6,123 girl babies to the local community in the last 33 years. “That is a total of 11,726 bundles of joy from 1988 until Dec. 9, 2021. The current population for the city of Andalusia is 8,668,” Rodgers said.

She has been a nurse for nearly 12 years and worked in the Birthing Center for the last five years. In that time, Rodgers has been a part of 256 deliveries.

“I knew when I was in high school, I wanted to be a nurse. I knew that part of me desired to become a nurse to advocate for women and women’s health. I had originally planned on furthering my education and becoming a midwife. My own expanding family put the brakes on that goal, and it has now been moved to the back burner for a time. The next best option was becoming a labor and delivery nurse.”

When she first applied at Andalusia Health, Rodgers said she was informed the nurses are not “just L&D” nurses because they do so much more.

“I learned they did everything from taking care of momma after the birth to caring for the newborns. I also learned there was an emphasis placed on helping families bond as a new unit. We practice ‘rooming in’ here, which allows for parents to get to know their newborn. Almost every nurse has been extensively educated in lactation, and the hospital encourages them to become a certified lactation consultant.”

Rodgers was ecstatic to have the opportunity to work in such an exciting environment.

“I never imagined just how blessed I would be working with such amazing people. I have since been honored with the responsibility to lead and support these nurses as their manager. There are several who have since retired, some who have moved on to other adventures, and a few no longer with us on Earth. With Christmas time approaching, I wanted to do something to show these nurses what we do here matters. I knew I could now access past records to review written birth logs. What started as a need to quiet my curiosity turned into awe,” she said.

According to Rodgers, the Birthing Center currently employs 13 nurses. Nine have worked in the labor and delivery department for 10 years or more. Five of those nine have been at Andalusia Health for 15 years or more, and four have called the hospital their employer for over 20 years.

RN Joan Mills first began her labor and delivery career at Andalusia Health in 1984. In 37 years, she has been a part of 2,278 deliveries since 1988. “I did not have access to the birthing logs before that year, so I am sure the number of first breaths she has witnessed is closer to 5,000,” Rodgers stated. “I did not choose OB. When I graduated from nursing school as a new LPN, I applied at the local hospital. The recruiter mentioned they had an opening in OB, and I decided to take it. I knew this job was for me after working here for a short time. I have never wanted to do anything else,” Mills said.

RN Falisa Daughtry has been a labor and delivery nurse for 34 years and a part of 1,377 deliveries. “I wanted to make the experience of childbirth special. I wanted to be a part of making birth the best experience it could be for every woman. I want to help alleviate the fear of childbirth and help make it a special event for the family,” Daughtry said.

RN Jan Strickland began working in the Birthing Center in 1995 and has been a part of 1,010 deliveries in 26 years. “I needed a job and OB was hiring. I started as an LPN and at first didn’t know if I would like OB or not. I grew to love it though and even went back to school for my RN. Dr. Wells would help tutor me with my math homework, so I could be an RN and continue to grow in my skills as a labor and delivery nurse,” Strickland said.

LPN Amy Schneider has worked in the department for 17 years and has been a part of 1,863 deliveries. “I have worked in healthcare for most of my life starting at 15 years old when I asked my dad for $100 to take classes to become a CNA. I had worked in an OBGYN office in Florida, so this field was familiar to me. I knew a good opportunity when it presented itself and have been here as an LPN since that day,” Schneider said.

RN Linda Dewrell has been employed by the Birthing Center for eight years and has been a part of 738 deliveries. “I loved my clinical studies when going to nursing school. When I applied at the hospital, they had an opening in OB. I remembered how wonderful Dr. Michael Wells had been when I had my first child, so I accepted the position. I not only wanted to do something I loved but also wished to train and work with him. It has been an amazing job that has given me beautiful experiences with families. Nothing is greater than seeing people fall in love when they see their baby for the first time.”

RN EmmaRae Jackson said she chose to be an OB nurse from the moment she did clinicals in nursing school. “I felt like something was calling me to that area. I loved everything I experienced and loved the environment. It was really special being able to help these women through that time in their life. No matter where I went to clinical rotations, my mind kept returning to OB.” LPN Sharon Norris knew her career path from an early age. “Being a nurse was always my dream from the age of four. OB became my dream after having my own children, and I have now been in this field for 30 years.”

Laverness Brand has been an RN for 10 years and witnessed 581 deliveries. “I like the fact that in OB here, we are a family who supports each other. I like to take care of well patients looking forward to a life-changing moment. Usually, OB is a happy place to help people.” RN Shelley Sledge has been an OB nurse for six years and present for 319 deliveries. “I knew from the moment I chose to stay late just to watch my first delivery in nursing school, I had found my passion. I love supporting women during such a life-changing event. It will always be exciting and new to me.”

Jordan Williamson has been an RN for a year and has seen 28 deliveries. “I love being able to help guide my patients through the most special time in their life. It’s the best feeling in the world to witness moms and dads meeting their baby for the first time face to face.” As the newest member of the team, RN Kendall Hollon has been present for 13 deliveries. “I chose to be an OB nurse to be able to make a difference in women’s health. Birth is a beautiful thing, and I wanted to help women through one of the biggest days of their life.” Carolyn Douglas has been a nurse in the OB department for nine years and has had a hand in 313 deliveries.

For more information call the Andalusia Health Birthing Center at 334-428-7032.

She has been married to her husband Daniel Rodgers for 14 years, and they have four sons: Isaac, Rayden, Jones Henry, and Joel. “Despite the difficult times the world is currently facing, we are blessed to work with newborns and do something we are passionate about,” Rodgers said.