FORT BENNING, GA – The opening bars of Brahms Lullaby ring through the halls of Fort Benning Martin Army Community Hospital (BMACH). That means a baby was born. That also means Obstetrics and Gynecology (ObGyn) Nurse Marcella Hannah was most likely right by the mother’s bedside.
Hannah said helping moms get through that moment, one of the most important events of their lives, is the absolute best part of her day. “You remember your nurse being the person who was there telling you that you can do it when you wanted to give up, telling you how close you were and the baby will be here soon.”
The 58-year-old is one of the more experienced nurses on BMACH’s Labor and Delivery (L&D) service. Hannah graduated nursing school in 1989, and has worked as an L&D nurse pretty much ever since. “It never really gets old, just seeing their reactions. Lots of happy tears have been shed.”
Hannah shared there is never a typical day in the fifth floor unit. She likened working in labor and delivery to working in an emergency department. “Right now, everyone is at the desk. Yesterday, no one was at the desk.” Hannah elaborated, “We had a lot of patients, patients with high acuity (presenting with significant, unpredictable needs). We had someone who needed an emergency C-section. The baby’s heart rate was low… within ten minutes we had her in the OR (operating room) and the baby was out.” Thankfully the baby came out crying, which is always a good sign.
BMACH is a Level 1 nursery. That means BMACH is prepared to care for babies born at 35 weeks or over, with no anticipated medical issues at birth. Unlike a much larger hospital staffed through nurse internship programs where new graduates gain on the job practical skills, every nurse in BMACH’s L&D unit already has at least 2 years of experience. Some on staff, like Hannah, even boast 20-30 years of experience. Because of the number of nurses in Martin’s L&D unit, moms-to-be enjoy one-on-one nursing. Hannah explained, “Your nurse only has one patient, and that’s you.”
The Labor & Delivery Unit has eight spacious rooms, five labor and three triage, all with spectacular views of the surrounding post. Each room is equipped with a Panda Warmer, a self-contained infant station with a heated bed and ability to supply supplemental oxygen or suction as needed. Moms get to enjoy wireless monitoring while laboring, so they can move about their room unencumbered. Hannah said this technology allows her to keep an eye on her patients even when she is not in their room. “I’m always babysitting. I have my eyes on the monitor, watching your baby.”
In addition to the state of the art facilities, BMACH partners with Piedmont Columbus Regional to provide the Fort Benning community with Level 3 NICU (neonatal intensive) care. Hannah recalled another incident involving a mom who came in pre-term, with twins. “She was too far, too unstable for us to transfer her to Piedmont. We knew we had to deliver her here.” Hannah worked closely with her counterparts at Piedmont to provide the highest level of quality healthcare. “That particular day, they (Piedmont neonatal team) arrived before delivery, gowned up and went straight to the OR with us. We had two separate teams.”