Family Experiences, Friendly Care, Close to Home: Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital


It wasn’t the first time for Marianne Salinas to prepare for the arrival of a new family member. She had given birth to her first child eight years earlier. But this time around in 2015, she and her husband Chris weren’t looking at delivering their precious little one in Waco. The family now lived in Eastland, and they were faced with making the important decision of what hospital to rely on for the safe delivery of their second child.

DSC_0017Living in a smaller community, Marianne and Chris knew their options for delivery and postpartum care were rather limited as they planned for the December arrival of their daughter ¾ and that was okay. The couple wasn’t expecting to encounter any major complications during the course of Marianne’s pregnancy, so location became the determining factor in their choice of hospitals.

“It really came down to distance,” Marianne explained. “Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville was the closest hospital to us, and I didn’t want to get caught in a situation where I might have to travel far at a moment’s notice. I also know some of the nurses in the hospital’s Labor and Delivery [L&D] area, and that made me feel especially comfortable with the choice.”

Unexpected Pluses

Marianne and Chris were happy with their choice of hospitals. Although they weren’t overly concerned with the details of what to expect, they were pleasantly surprised to learn that Texas Health Stephenville is designated as a “Baby-Friendly Hospital” by the World Health Organization, recognized for its comprehensive approach to supporting family bonding and breastfeeding. And when it came time for Marianne to be admitted, the family also became keenly aware of the hospital’s attention to personalized care.

DSC_0020Through its family-centered approach, the Birdsong Women’s Center at Texas Health Stephenville focuses on providing a healthy, joyful experience for parents-to-be and their family members. Compassionate, caring nurses adapt to each family’s unique needs and help the family prepare emotionally and physically to welcome the addition to their family.

Marianne’s desire to deliver naturally, without the use of pain medications, was fully supported by the L&D staff. And when she later chose to self-administer nitrous oxide to lessen the severity of her contractions, the nurses were on hand to monitor and guide her through the experience.

“There is no medical ‘best choice’ for how to manage pain during labor ¾ instead, it’s more about what makes the most sense for the woman and her partner based on the type of birth experience the mother wants,” explained Rachell Huffman, BSN, RNC-OB, who is the interim director of women’s services at Texas Health Stephenville. “We work to ensure that moms-to-be understand their options for pain management and, in Marianne’s case, it was important to reassure her that a little nitrous did nothing to diminish her accomplishment of a natural childbirth.”

Right on Schedule

In much the same organized fashion as Marianne and Chris’ preparation for her arrival, baby Gabriella entered the world without incident on her expected due date of Dec. 2, 2015. She was soon examined right inside the family’s Labor and Delivery room, which allowed Marianne and Chris to be part of her first exam and measurements. Once Gabriella was given a “clean bill of health,” the Salinas family was moved to a spacious postpartum room located just down the hall. Here, the family had a peaceful environment where they could begin to bond.

DSC_0061As Marianne began to breastfeed Gabriella, she noticed that her newborn had an exceptionally strong latch. Although pleased with the baby’s “healthy” nature, Marianne was experiencing discomfort with each attempt at breastfeeding.

“The nurses sensed my discomfort and offered the assistance of a lactation consultant,” she said. “Jennifer McMeens, R.N., was so helpful and she stayed in the room with me for some time. I never felt rushed to breastfeed Gabriella.”

Home with Some Hesitation

When it came time to go home, Marianne joked about not wanting to leave the hospital because of the wonderful care she had received. Chris seconded the notion, adding that the staff went above and beyond for his family and that he would recommend Texas Health Stephenville to anyone in need of a hospital.

DSC_0091“The service was exceptional; every nurse I came in contact with was so attentive ¾ from Rachel Jones, R.N., and Roxanna Martin, R.N., in L&D to postpartum nurses Rayna Skaggs, R.N.C., and Marsha Smith, R.N.,” said Marianne. “Even nurses that didn’t attend to me brought whatever was needed. It was almost like they came and visited the same as a friend would. They were very sincere. This touched my heart.”

The Salinas family is opening more than one new chapter in their life. Marianne graduated from Tarleton State University with a nursing degree just one week after delivering Gabriella. She now says that she has a new appreciation for what L&D nurses do. If she weren’t already committed to another career opportunity, she would consider joining the Texas Health Stephenville Labor & Delivery team.