FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Mrs. Leah Esper, spouse of Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper, visited Blanchfield Army Community Hospital July 10 and spoke with patients and staff about Labor and Delivery experiences at the hospital.

Blanchfield's Labor and Delivery team help welcome between 150 and 200 babies each month and staff members said they were proud to show Mrs. Esper the capabilities of the BACH team.

Hospital commander Col. Anthony McQueen escorted Mrs. Esper to one of the hospital's seven labor suites on the Labor, Delivery and Recovery Unit where his team shared how they work to help mothers safely deliver their newborns.

"The nurses who work here are very passionate about what they do and we love seeing our patients come here and we're excited to take care of them," said Penny Mullins, nurse educator at BACH's, Department of Women's Health. Mullins and other team members showed Mrs. Esper how a new, state-of-the-art birthing simulator helps medical staff maintain readiness to safely care for mothers and infants who may experience complications during labor.

The computer-controlled robotic simulator helps medical staff train for deliveries where the mother or infant may experience complications. A nurse explained to Mrs. Esper that the simulator requires medical staff to respond to complicated scenarios like uncontrolled bleeding, ruptured uterus, umbilical cord prolapse, postpartum hysterectomy and other labor complications, that while rare, can occur during labor and postpartum. This allows BACH staff to maintain proficiency to provide safe, quality care to less common but potentially life threatening scenarios patients could experience. Simulation results are automatically sent to the Defense Health Agency, which assigns the training scenarios.

"All the situations that we do are applicable to what we do on the floor and could see in our day-to-day jobs. This allows us to practice and be more familiar with things that don't happen very often so when they do happen, our skills are refreshed," explained Brianna Glover-Motley, a registered nurse on BACH's Labor, Delivery and Recovery Unit and one of four staff members qualified to operate the simulator. Glover-Motley and her training counterparts briefed Mrs. Esper on the simulator's capabilities and how Blanchfield is putting it use to best serve patients.

"By educating our nurses and staff and making them more competent and improving their skills, it will benefit our beneficiaries because we can give better care. It allows our nurses to train to take care of the moms and to take care of the babies and to prepare for whatever should occur," said Mullins. "It was a great day. We enjoyed having Mrs. Esper here. I'm glad she was able to see what we do and could see the simulator because we were really excited to get this mom and baby simulator. We do this simulation training so that we can give our patients the best care available," said Mullins.

After the delivery simulation demonstration, the team explained how care is provided postpartum. The labor suites are equipped with infant warmers and monitoring stations, which allow the baby to remain in the same room as its mother during recovery.

"We're checking on the health of mom and baby after delivery to make sure everything is okay," explained Erin Vinson, a post-partum nurse on the Mother-Baby Unit. Vinson explained that most moms and babies are typically ready to transfer from the labor suite to a private room on the Mother-Baby Unit after about two hours, where medical staff will continue to monitor their recovery.
During the tour, Mrs. Esper visited with an Army family on the Mother-Baby Unit and asked about their experience.

"Everything has been good. Dr. Tillman is excellent. I've had really good care," said Sgt. 1st Class Jo Desiree Murphy, assigned to the 526th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. Murphy and her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Murphy, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, welcomed their daughter, Ariana Jewel at Blanchfield the day before. Mrs. Esper took time to hold one of the Army's newest family members and visited with the Murphy family.

Blanchfield's Mother-Baby Unit has 20 private suites where mothers and babies continue their recuperation. Medical staff monitor mom and baby's recovery progress to make sure they are doing well. With input from the patient and their care team, hospital staff will make a determination when mom and baby are ready to be discharged from the hospital to continue their recovery at home with scheduled follow-up care.