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Registering new births

Roxanne Harris (left) and Lynne Morris (right) have been on staff since Augusta Medical Center (now Augusta Health) opened in 1994. They continue to record births in a hand-written log, and care for babies as modeled by the doll shown here.

Nurses continue to use birth log to register new births

It’s officially called the Delivery Room Register, but nurses simply call it the Birth Log. An oblong book, it is held together with pins, with one meticulous hand-written entry for each baby born on the obstetrics unit. It records the day, the time, the gender, the mom’s name, the length and weight, Apgar scores and any other bit of information someone might need to know about a baby’s birth. Not written down, but still connected to each entry, are the nurses’ memories of each event.

There was a birth log kept at Waynesboro Community Hospital in Waynesboro, and there was a similar birth log kept at King’s Daughter’s Hospital in Staunton. When the two hospitals merged in 1994, the birth logs were transferred to Augusta Medical Center, now Augusta Health. Even though the OB staff at Augusta Health fully uses the electronic medical records, a nurse still completes a line for each baby born there in the Birth Log.

“While computers definitely have their strengths and purpose, the Birth Log is an important tradition in obstetric departments,” says Roxanne Harris, MSN, RN, IBCLC, CCE, director of Obstetrics and Pediatrics.  “When you look back through the pages, you remember each birth.”

Harris and the five other obstetrics and pediatric nurses still on staff who “came with the furniture” when the hospital opened — Donna Ashby, RN; Melanie Earhart, BSN, RN; Margaret Miller, LPN; Lynne Morris, RN;  and Donna Yeago, RN — gathered to talk about 25 years of delivering babies together at Augusta Health.

Coming together

All agreed it was a bit of a difficult start — two nursing staffs coming together, from two hospitals with two ways of doing things, to create a new team in a new environment. They needed to learn to work together, get to know each other and, at the same time, not miss a beat while delivering babies.

“It was ‘the new hospital,’ and when we first toured it, the whole unit seemed so large. I will say that over the last 25 years, the nurses’ station seems to have shrunk

a bit,” says Morris with a smile. And, they all add, the women delivering babies today don’t think of it as “the new hospital.” For many of the new mothers today, Augusta Health has been their hospital for their entire lives.

The staff has developed into a cohesive team — building on each other’s thoughts, finishing each other’s sentences and laughing together as they talk about what’s changed in OB in the last 25 years.

Birth log memories

Then, as the talk turns to the babies and their care, Harris retrieves the birth logs.

The hospital opened on Sept. 11, 1994, and the first baby was delivered on Sept. 12

by Margaret Flather, MD, who is still a part of Augusta Health’s medical staff today. The second baby delivered was the first cesarean section, and the first set of twins was born on Sept. 16.

The birth logs bring back memories of the past 25 years of delivering babies — the set of first cousins who delivered their babies on the same day, the first baby of the new year who turned out to be a surprise set of twins and one of those twins returning as an adult to deliver her own baby, and the babies delivered years ago that are now co-workers and colleagues at Augusta Health. Entries spark memories, and memories trigger more memories.

Then the realization occurs to the group that what remains the same in the last 25 years is not found in the Birth Log: With lots of pride and love, they deliver babies. They provide quality care to the moms and take great care of the babies. They give highly personal care in a community hospital, where mothers come back to where they were born to have their babies.

More than 29,000 have been delivered in the years since the hospital opened in September 1994. And each one has an entry — handwritten by an OB nurse —in the Augusta Health Birth Log.