Where Life Begins


Women’s Services at Rio Grande Regional Hospital Embraces Families

When we celebrate birthdays, we commemorate the day we began to exist — perhaps the most significant event of our lives. However, we tend to forget that our parents’ lives also change that day.

“It’s a very rewarding experience to witness and share in the birth of a baby with families,” says Nadine Barnes, Director of Women’s Services and Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery at Rio Grande Regional Hospital. “We still cry with joy; we get very emotional. Bringing a life into the world is amazing every time.”

While its comprehensive women’s health services provide a full range of OB/GYN expertise, from prenatal care and labor and delivery through postpartum care, Rio Grande Regional Hospital is not just dedicated to women, babies, and children — it is dedicated to the entire family.

Families Matter

The Children’s Medical Center at Rio Grande Regional Hospital is taking pediatric care to the next level. They provide the specialized expertise of a comprehensive pediatric team — committed to excellence and innovation in caring for their youngest patients. For example, services that are not performed at a pediatrician’s office but do not necessarily require hospitalization are offered through the Children’s Medical Center-Kid’s Express area. Kids Express is designed to offer minimally invasive services such as lab work, X-rays, antibiotic therapy, and other medical services performed in an outpatient setting. “This area is designed to make the sometimes difficult healthcare experience easier and less stressful for both the parent and child,” says Carolyn Dominguez, Director of Pediatrics, Pediatric Step-Down, and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Whether sharing results or other information related to the care of a child, the staff in the Children’s Medical Center works hard to ensure they are always educating and maintaining the patient’s family informed and up to date on their child’s care.  

“It’s the hardest thing for a parent to see their child ill, so we do everything we can to ease their worries,” Dominguez says.

Dr. Krishna Turlapati, Pediatric Intensivist and Medical Director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Rio Grande Regional Hospital, created a positive impact on both the children and parents in the RGV. He advocated for parents to spend more time with their little ones when they are in the hospital.  

“I was adamant about parents being at their children’s bedside,” Turlapati says. “Today it’s the standard — guardians are allowed to see and/or stay with their child during their hospital stay.”

This full access extends to the parents of the baby’s in the nursery as well. The rest of the family has extended visiting hours, too.

“This is also very important to families,” Turlapati says. “Over the years, many parents have thanked us for treating their child and for allowing them to hold their child’s hand every step of the way.”

rio-gPreparing for Baby

Rio Grande Regional Hospital goes above and beyond to prepare and treat expectant mothers. The hospital’s Women’s Services Department works in conjunction with four Rio Grande Women’s Clinics in Hidalgo county. These clinics provide a full range of services for well woman care and pregnancy monitoring, along with the option for their patients to deliver their babies at Rio Grande Regional Hospital.

“It is very common for pregnant women and their partners to be nervous,” says Dr. Jennifer Almonte-Gonzalez, Obstetrician/Gynecologist and Chief of Staff at Rio Grande Regional Hospital. To prepare parents, the staff offers pre- and postnatal education at every checkup, and encourages attendance to the hospital’s birthing and breastfeeding classes. The childbirth class covers the stages of labor, pain relief options and care of the newborn. International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) lead breastfeeding classes that can prevent common problems, and on-site lactation specialists are also available to help once the baby is born.

The educational programs are open to all members of the community at no charge. Prospective parents are welcome, along with their spouse, partner or support person. Classes are taught in English, but arrangements can be made for instruction in Spanish. Call (956) 632-6299 for more information or to schedule a personal hospital tour of our birthing rooms, nursery and postpartum areas. [1]

A staff of certified registered nurse anesthetists dedicated specifically for the Labor and Delivery and Women’s Services area make sure to let parents know their pain management options. All nursing staff in Women’s Services are trained in the Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) and breastfeeding education.

“Every nurse in the women’s services unit is required to take NRP updates every two years,” Barnes says.

Welcome to the World

Online Registration for the Labor and Delivery unit at Rio Grande Regional Hospital helps save time when patients arrive, ensuring the comfort and well-being of both mother and child.

Upon arrival, expectant mothers are set up with fetal monitoring devices. Almonte-Gonzalez explains that their telemetry monitors allow for wireless monitoring so mothers can walk freely and safely. Walking can make mothers more comfortable and actually help speed up the dilation process.

Once the contractions start, all the information about the benefits and risks of pain relief that was shared by the nursing staff starts to be particularly relevant. Almonte-Gonzalez says the hospital supports mothers’ decisions to have an unmedicated birth.

“Sometimes, they change their mind once they’re in the delivery room and that’s OK,” Almonte-Gonzalez says. “We can usually apply the epidural even if we’re very close to delivery.”

The hospital has 14 LDR’s where the expectant mother can labor, deliver and recover after giving birth. The private birthing suites are larger to allow the family to be present and also include comfortable sleeper sofas. These are full size beds made available to the partners to help make them feel comfortable when they stay over with the mom.

Some women opt to have a C-section as their birth method; other times it’s an emergency situation. No matter the case, Rio Grande Regional Hospital’s state-of-the-art dedicated C-section operating rooms with specially trained staff provide peace of mind to families going through this operation. The C-section rooms feature clear surgical drapes, which allows mothers to witness the baby’s birth from a sterile environment.

“This is something many parents thought they would have to give up with a non-vaginal birth,” says Dr. Liliana Padilla-Williams, Obstetrician/Gynecologist and Chief of Obstetrics/Gynecology at Rio Grande Regional Hospital. “We also allow the other parent to cut the cord if that’s something they want to do.”

A Comforting Touch

Whether it was a cesarean or vaginal birth, Rio Grande Regional Hospital implements protocols that allow for immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby. The baby is placed on the mother’s chest as soon as the cord is cut. Studies have shown that newborns who are placed skin-to-skin with their mothers face greater stability with their respiratory system, temperature, glucose levels, and mothers also benefit in many ways. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is not interrupted unless the baby or mother require medical intervention.

“What’s important is having the baby and family together,” says Padilla-Williams. If the father would like, nurses can assist him with skin-to-skin interaction as well. “It’s a beautiful bonding experience for the parents and new baby.”

A nurse or a physician is present for the skin-to-skin experience to monitor the brand new baby’s safety and provide support to the parents. Rio Grande Regional Hospital’s team is very well-trained and informed and up-to-date on current practices. For example, the “first spank” popularized by movies is not a practice you will see at Rio Grande Regional Hospital.

“The delivery nurse or physician will rub the baby’s back or tickle their feet to stimulate the baby,” Barnes says. “And you don’t have to put a secret mark on the newborn to prevent a mix up.” At Rio Grande Regional Hospital, identical wristbands are placed on both the parents and the babies in the room at the time of birth. The baby also has an alarm sensor placed on their umbilical cord. Should the baby be moved when or where they shouldn’t be, an alarm will be triggered and the entire hospital will go into immediate lockdown.

Ensuring Safety

If a mother is not ready to deliver but is having complications, she can stay in one of the nine high-risk pregnancy suites, dedicated for women who need bed rest and/or monitoring until her baby is far enough along for delivery.

“We see women whose pregnancies are at 23 to 32 weeks, but are having complications like infections, pregnancy-induced hypertension, diabetes, or premature rupture of membranes,” Barnes says. “It can be very dangerous when babies are born at less than 28 weeks, so we want to maintain the safety of mom and baby until around 39 weeks.”

Quality Care in the NICU

If a baby is born prematurely or critically ill, they will be moved to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  

“Because we can’t anticipate everything, we have the neonatologists and staff on standby 24/7,” Barnes says. “If surgery is required, we have the team and capabilities to perform the surgery within minutes.”  

The NICU staff has extensive education and experience in dealing with premature babies and the unit is equipped with the most up to date equipment to care of our pre-term infants. Rio Grande Regional Hospital’s NICU is equipped to handle many complications.

“We are able to make sure that our patients are well cared for here, so they can avoid the inconvenience of travel,” says Dr. Muzamil Noorani, Pediatric Critical Care and Chief of Pediatrics at Rio Grande Regional Hospital.  “Our patients are part of our family. You can see the concern in the nurses and other staff members — saving lives isn’t just work to them. When patients get better and you see the change, it’s very heartwarming.”

Committed to Care

Since 1982, Rio Grande Regional Hospital has been providing exceptional quality care, consistently serving the healthcare needs of residents in the Rio Grande Valley.  

“We plan to keep up with the needs of our community, and we’re positioned to meet the demand,” Noorani says. Rio Grande Regional Hospital is an HCA-affiliated hospital proudly offering the entire Rio Grande Valley with healthcare you can trust.

Learn more at www.riohealth.com.