The obstetrics team at Northwestern Medicine Valley West Hospital already had seen five patients go through labor, a largely unprecedented number for the facility, when staff received notice that a sixth patient had arrived.
“In my 10 years of working, I don’t think I’ve seen that volume of deliveries in that short of time span,” said Beth Mosher, the director of clinical and administrative operations at the Sandwich facility.
Now known as “baby night” to Valley West staff, the obstetrics unit delivered six babies within eight hours Thursday, May 6. Just in time for Mother’s Day, high-level staff had to return to the hospital in the evening to assist with caring for the patients, which technically totaled 12.
“That team did not miss a beat,” Mosher said. “They were completely focused.”
“Baby night” at the hospital began early with two patients actively in labor and another pair already postpartum. At about 8 a.m., the unit received notice that another patient was en route.
“We had the three patients that were laboring all day,” said Kristie DeMayo, manager of obstetrics patient care. “Then in the afternoon, we got another patient.”
Eventually, two more patients arrived, bringing the total to six. DeMayo said the unit typically never has more than two or three patients at a time.
“It kind of worked, though,” DeMayo said, saying it was “back and forth” for a moment of how the unit would handle such a high volume.
What explains this anomaly of the miracles at the hospital? Staff can’t say for sure, but they have their theories.
DeMayo and Mosher didn’t rule out last year’s months of quarantine as a possible explanation for the abrupt uptick in obstetrics patients. The hospital officials also noted that last week’s drop in temperatures could have played a part, because fluctuations in barometric pressure can send women into labor.
Notwithstanding the reasons, Mosher insisted that few other obstetrics units were better prepared.
Obstetrics involves caring for patients throughout their pregnancy, from prenatal to postpartum.
For a rural, community hospital, the facility has one of the few full-time obstetrics units in Illinois, with three obstetricians and a midwife on staff. Valley West offers postpartum rooms and lactation services, as well.
Additionally, the hospital is pursuing a magnet recognition, a top certification that requires nurses with bachelor’s degrees and high levels of patient satisfaction.
“The teamwork was top notch, the skill level of the nursing staff that we have at Valley West Hospital is top notch,” Mosher said. “Yes, it was a high volume, but the teamwork was just incredible and that was between nursing, anesthesia, the obstetricians.”
Lucas Robinson covers politics, courts, schools and the pandemic in Kendall County and Yorkville for Shaw Media. His work has previously appeared in the Chicago Reader, the Buenos Aires Times, Open Secrets and USAToday. He grew up in Muncie, Indiana.