Bundles of Joy

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For many members of the obstetrical team at Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen, offering excellent care to pregnant women, new mothers, and their babies is personal.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to take care of babies — and then I had an experience with my own pregnancy where I had rushed back [for an] emergency C-section,” said Blanca Pumarejo, a registered nurse at Valley Baptist. “I had no clue what was going on, why I even went back, what the situation was. At that point, I made the decision that I wanted to be that nurse to educate my patients, to tell them why everything’s happening. I wanted to be there for my mamas.”

Thorough and compassionate communication is key to how the team works together to care for patients in the obstetrics department, educate new mothers on how crucial breastfeeding is for their baby’s healthy development, bring in expert neonatologists for support, and provide comprehensive overall care.

“I couldn’t do anything I do without my team,” said Leighann Villines, a labor and delivery nurse at Valley Baptist. “We’re a family. I depend on them, they depend on me. If I need help with a patient, I know that I have the support.”

That high level of care hasn’t wavered even in the face of a pandemic.

“Our patients should feel comfortable coming here,” said Mary Garcia, Valley Baptist clinical director. “We have a separate area for our COVID patients. We make sure that we provide protective equipment for the patients and for ourselves.”

The expectant mother is still allowed to have a support person with her during the delivery. And the facility’s hallmark practice of trying never to separate mothers and newborns continues. Valley Baptist has maintained many safety protocols since the start of the pandemic to keep its patients and their families safe.

“It’s the little things like hand washing, face masks, social distancing … those are important no matter what anybody tells you,” said Dr. Ruben Torres, medical director of Valley Baptist’s Maternity Services. “Valley Baptist does a very good job about screening individuals — including doctors, personnel, administration, and patients — that come through the front door. I tell people I feel safer in Valley Baptist than I do in most supermarkets.”

Though COVID-19 may cause additional anxiety in women who are already nervous about giving birth, the Valley Baptist team continues to make the moment as special as possible.

“It’s a magical moment that is cherished by families,” Torres said. “I think Valley Baptist remembers that — they do a good job in these troubled times.”

The medical center continues to be on the forefront of care, especially when it comes to implementing the best possible technology and practices for patients.

“For years, Valley Baptist has been known as an excellent hospital — lots of integrity, always trying to keep up with the latest studies,” said Dr. Uvaldo Cantu, chief of staff. “The mission for Valley Baptist is not just taking care of patients with the highest degree of care, but also being compassionate.”

That extends from the weeks of prenatal care women receive, to coming into the hospital to give birth, to receiving postpartum care and access to resources for their new baby.

“We tell them they can call us at any time if they have questions about their baby,” Garcia said. “We’re always available for them.”

These factors are among the biggest that may influence expectant mothers to choose Valley Baptist to have their baby — a big decision to make.

“We understand that these patients are anxious and nervous and some of them are sick. They’re treated like you would your own sister or your own mother,” Cantu said. “The nurses show empathy toward these patients. They offer warm, friendly care.”

Helping mothers and babies is more than a job for this team. And for Torres, it’s a true passion and calling.

“After all this time — 27 years — I still enjoy what I do,” he said. “After thousands of deliveries I’ve done, I still get emotional about it. I still get excited about being part of people’s family.”