LEWISBURG - It's hard to imagine a time when babies were born at home or when doctors delivered babies on tables with fathers in the hospital waiting room, but at one time, that is how it was done. At Evangelical Community Hospital, all of that changed decades ago, with the introduction of the first birthing room.
With the latest renovations coming to a close in Evangelical's The Family Place, many are reflecting on how things have transitioned in the world of obstetrics over the years. Dr. George Miller, of Lewisburg Gynecology and Obstetrics, PC, recalls when everything started to change.
"When I came to Evangelical in 1978, I had seen birthing rooms in other hospitals. The beds in those rooms made delivery more comfortable, less clinical feeling, and a much better environment for the mother. I wanted to share that experience with the staff at Evangelical and arranged to have a trained registered nurse from a hospital with birthing rooms come in and do an in-service about what goes into a specialized room for birth and the difference it can make for the patient," Miller said.
In May of 1979, Elizabeth Pursley of Montandon, right, was the first woman to deliver a baby in a birthing room designed specifically for patient comfort during labor and delivery at Evangelical Community Hospital. The baby was her daughter Brandy Pursley, left. At eight is Dr. George Miller, who delivered Brandy Pursley.
The nurses who attended were immediately excited about the prospect of introducing a birthing room at Evangelical and they took it upon themselves to find a space and a bed to be used for more comfortable deliveries. By the end of May 1979, the first mother, Elizabeth Pursley, of Montandon, was giving birth to a baby girl, Brandy, in the room especially designed with patient needs in mind.
"It was that exact excitement and innovation of the nurses, their dedication to their work, that made Evangelical a good choice for me as an obstetrician and an exceptional choice for patients seeking a personal birthing experience," said Miller.
The birthing room was the beginning of many changes at Evangelical. Other physicians began supporting the idea of a less medicinal, more inviting environment and began purchasing wallpaper and other items to make the room more comfortable. The idea was well-received and soon the hospital had a second birthing room and other hospitals were asking to see the beds in place and how the rooms were used.
The birthing room was the start of a movement toward patient comfort that didn't feel so much like a hospital setting. That momentum has continued and many of the available services to women now include pre-natal education, classes for siblings, having fathers in the room for birth, a greater focus on family, and maternal/infant bonding by having the baby in the room instead of the nursery.