MCHS Welcomes First Baby Of 2023

McKenzie County Healthcare Systems, Inc. (MCHS) welcomed their first baby of the New Year! Isael Eliseo Florentino Hernandez was born Jan. 4, 2023, weighing 7 lbs. 11 oz. The baby boy was born to Katerina Garcia and Jose Hernandez. 

"I am very honored to have been part of such an amazing team. Dr. Newton and all the staff have been amazing and super helpful. I'm very thrilled to have been the first patient to deliver here at this hospital, and excited to have the first baby of the year here in Watford City," Garcia commented.

According to Cheryl Faulkner, MCHS Director of Nursing, the last baby born at a McKenzie County Medical facility was during the summer of 1997. Faulkner stated, "As I recall it was a slow trickle effect of OB services after Dr. Ebel retired in 1995. Maternity services ended around the summer of 1997 along with our last delivery. It was primarily related to not having the staffing or provider for the services."

"I couldn't be more proud of the MCHS team for this huge accomplishment. Having OB services available locally, coupled with great healthcare and schools, as well as a welcoming and supportive community, should help attract and retain growing families. Not only will this help build a sustainable workforce, it also strengthens the community as a whole. I'd also like to recognize Great Plains Women's Health Center for the ground work they laid prior to my arrival, which helped bring our OB service line to fruition. They also referred Dr. Newton to us, who is now our primary OBGYN provider," stated Pete Edis, MCHS CEO.

MCHS was formed July 1, 2004 and was a merger of McKenzie County Hospital, McKenzie County Rural Health Clinic, Good Shepherd Home, Horizon Assisted Living, and the Connie Wold Wellness Center. The facility began offering maternity, labor and delivery services Dec. 6, 2022. Dr. Yolanda Newton joined MCHS Oct. 31, 2022 and Dr. Jennifer Arnhold began Jan. 6, 2023; both OBGYNs provide women's health care, prenatal, and labor and delivery services.

"It was a goal to provide labor & delivery services following construction and opening of the new healthcare facility as an obstetric wing was established as part of the new construction. Later, a c-section surgical suite was added to the wing with support from McKenzie County," commented Lynn Welker, Chief of Communications, Marketing, Strategy and Innovation.

The accomplishment was not without its challenges, the biggest being able to obtain commitments for additional units of blood, which are needed for an OB department.

Labor shortages were another obstacle and a "hard to fill" policy had to be developed and implemented, offering incentives such as sign-on bonuses, relocation assistance, and housing as part of the recruitment package to help draw medical professionals to the rural area.

"Pete Edis, CEO, and Michelle Bomer, Interim OB Manager, worked to coordinate many moving parts, especially unique in a frontier community," said Welker. "Recruiting team members, developing a new service line per regulatory standards, finalizing construction, and addressing the needs associated with having enough blood on hand in the event of an emergency were all components of successful deployment of the new obstetrics program."

To celebrate the occasion, Welker contacted local businesses Mabe's Flower Market and Prairie Rose Gifts and the local businesses were happy to help welcome the first baby of the New Year with a beautiful floral arrangement and gift basket! The family also received a baby blanket and book donated by the Prairie Rose Quilters; in May 2022 the group donated a total of 38 blankets for babies born at MCHS.

"We've now had two planned/expected deliveries and these are the first planned in 20+ years," Welker said of the milestone accomplishment and added, "Pete was able to bring two outstanding OBGYNs onboard, and Michelle was able to build and coordinate a very experienced and caring team. Pete's leadership, Michelle's experience, and a dedicated team of awesome professionals effectively deployed labor and delivery at MCHS."


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