Kristin Harty Barkley
CUMBERLAND — Sarah and Daniel Emerick must have heard about the grand opening of the hospital.
The twins weren’t due until Christmas week, but they showed up Sunday morning, just 18 hours after Western Maryland Regional Medical Center opened to the public for the first time.
They are the first babies to be born at the new hospital.
“The doctors told us, ‘We did this a thousand times — just not here,’” said Matthew Emerick, the twins’ father, who was in the operating room during the C-section births. “Everything went smoothly. The labor room was very well-prepared. They was very pleased with the way everything went, and we was, too.”
With 12 postpartum rooms and eight labor and delivery rooms, the new hospital’s obstetrics department is vastly improved over what was previously available, said Debbie Jenkins, nurse manager.
The $268 million hospital replaces Western Maryland Health Systems’ Memorial and Braddock campuses, which closed permanently on Saturday.
“We have a separate special care nursery that offers the families privacy and an area that our neonatologist needs to take care of sicker babies,” Jenkins said. “We have an isolation nursery that we didn’t have before. ...We have new equipment. We have a lot of good benefits.”
On Monday, the obstetrics department, typically filled with crying newborns and their mothers, was oddly quiet and mostly empty.
“It’s not going to stay that way for long, that’s for sure,” said Jenkins, adding that around 1,200 babies a year are born in Allegany County hospitals.
Sarah and Daniel were Nos. 1,000 and 1,001 this year.
For the new regional medical center, Sarah is No. 1 (born at 12:51 a.m.) and Daniel is No. 2 (born at 12:53 a.m.)
Their mom, Stephanie Emerick, who remains hospitalized with the twins, expects to go home with them Wednesday or Thursday.
“They’re still not quite eating the way they want them to,” Stephanie said. “I could go home now, but I won’t leave them.”
In June 2008, she gave birth to her first child, Tyler, at Memorial Hospital.
“The beds are much more comfortable here than Memorial was,” said Stephanie, who took a tour of the new hospital during a public open house two weeks before it opened. “It was nice to be able to get in and see, ‘OK, this is the room.’”
Both Stephanie and her husband were born at Memorial Hospital. Though they’re glad to be the first to bring new life into the new hospital, they hope the old hospital buildings will be put to good use.
“I hope they don’t just turn them into apartment buildings or something,” Stephanie Emerick said. “We could really use a VA hospital. Sometimes I don’t think we give our veterans the kind of care they need.”
Staff gave the Emericks two gift baskets — one pink, one blue — to celebrate the births of the hospital’s first babies.
“First boy and first girl — all in one package,” said Jenkins, the nurse manager, who expects the obstetrics ward to be full most of the time.
“We’ll have about a hundred births a month,” she said. “And our numbers are increasing. They’re going up and up.”
Contact Kristin Harty at firstname.lastname@example.org.