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Newton, MA 02462
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Natick, MA 01760
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Newton Centre, MA 02459
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978 Worcester Road (rte 9)
Wellesley, Massachusetts 02482
Open 24 hours
Lab Hours and Holiday Hours Vary
25 Washington Street
Wellesley, Massachusetts 02481
9 Hope Ave
Waltham, MA 02453
Monday through Saturday: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
Sunday: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Lab Hours and Holiday Hours Vary
Smiling up at his parents on a spring visit to Newton- Wellesley, baby Reed reminds Becky and Blake Staley of all of the miracles they experienced in the days before and after his birth.
In the 32nd week of a “totally normal and very easy” pregnancy, some unsettling symptoms brought the expectant parents into NWH over a fall weekend. While nothing seemed out of the ordinary at first, by Monday, they found themselves back again. This time, they sensed a different vibe. The team in the room grew, and a neonatologist explained that Becky was beginning to go into labor.
On that Thursday morning, after a long last night in Labor and Delivery, Reed came into the world at 4 lbs., 10 oz. In the course of less than a week, they experienced nearly every facet of Maternity Services, from Maternal Fetal Medicine to Labor and Delivery to the Special Care Nursery.
At each turn, they found comfort and reassurance in what they saw as small miracles when they needed them most—from having the childbirth educator whom they’d loved, Karen Mueller, CNP, as part of their team to having Blake’s own childhood pediatrician, Mark Blumenthal, MD, there to check on Reed.
While so much was new to them, “we always felt in good hands,” they reflect. As a hospital, “Newton-Wellesley overdelivered.”
Thomas Beatty, MD, chair of NWH’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has a long view of Maternity Services at the hospital.
For a community hospital, Newton-Wellesley has a large obstetrical program, with nearly 4,000 births annually. As a team, “we think of it as a perinatal program,” encompassing care before, during, and after the birth of a child. Importantly, “we’ve done it for decades,” he adds. The commitment runs deep.
Since he started in 1985, he estimates that he’s delivered 6,000 babies. And as he likes to say, “pregnancy is not an illness.”
He appreciates seeing how medicine and his own field continue to evolve. NWH has kept pace, such as adding Maternal Fetal Medicine in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
What’s stayed the same? “Our attention to the patient experience,” he says. The team provides not only clinical expertise but also a warm and welcoming environment. It’s “high tech/high touch.”
Together, they strive to offer the same level of care as an academic medical center. “I take pride in the way in which we provide a personalized experience while behind the scenes, we have everything you need if something goes wrong,” Dr. Beatty reflects.
The presence of the Maternal Fetal Medicine team sends a message to patients, says its director, Lisa Dunn-Albanese, MD: “You don’t have to go to the city for world-class care. You can feel secure that you’ll have whatever you need here.”
As a team, they are here for every expectant mom as the source for prenatal screening and diagnosis. They do 8,500 to 9,000 scans a year. When a mom or baby has a risk factor or complication, the team provides care and consultation on areas such as delivery timing, medication, and other interventions.
Dr. Dunn-Albanese started in 2004 a day a week at Newton-Wellesley as part of a fledging collaboration with the Brigham. Now it’s her home four days a week. The robust service includes two doctors on staff every day and five ultrasound rooms.
Their phone is always ringing, she says. If there’s a recurrent theme for her, it’s the increase in high-risk pregnancies. “We’ve seen a change in acuity and more complex cases,” she explains. Today, 60 percent of pregnant women nationally have preexisting conditions such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes that have the potential to lead to complications.
“Pregnancy can unmask a predisposition for future health issues,” she says. “It’s like a stress test for your body.” As she notes, heightened risks also unveil deeper societal issues such as healthcare disparities and systemic racism.
“The most gratifying part of caring for women with pregnancy risks or complications is that most patients do well and deliver healthy babies. It really is a privilege to help them through the more difficult times.”
If she had one wish, she adds, it would be “to make an impact pre-pregnancy and find a way to optimize the health of all reproductive age women.”
When it comes to Labor and Delivery, “no day’s the same,” says nurse director Stephanie Felix, RN. After 22 years on the unit, she still loves the camaraderie among staff and seeing the joy on patients’ faces.
“And when it comes to maternal health, we don’t treat this as an ailment,” she adds, echoing Dr. Beatty. She sees that mindset as one of the keys to an exceptional patient experience.
“We have a team approach, and the patient is the primary member of the team. We allow them to have a voice in guiding their care,” she says, while leaning on their own extensive clinical experience to ensure patient safety.
Twice a day, they have multidisciplinary team meetings to review the census and judge the acuity of the floor and situational awareness.
Her long tenure adds perspective. After starting as a surgical technologist, she went on to get a nursing degree and stayed on as new graduate. She spent seven years as permanent charge nurse before becoming nurse director a year ago. “It gives me an appreciation of how each member of the team is vital to our work and makes it run smoothly.”
As an advocate for safe, competent, and equitable care, she also appreciates that conversations about health equity have come to the forefront. She sees more patients learning to advocate for themselves, asking, “How are you going to keep me safe as a woman of color?” As a staff, “we’re working to peel away the layers and be honest about where the deficits are.”
While the work is just beginning, “we’re invested in the community and holding true to our promise,” she reflects.
In circling back to the idea of community, she returns to the message of “beloved family” at the heart of NWH’s mission. “Once you’ve delivered here, you’re forever part of our family,” she says. “It’s such a privilege to be part of your birth stories.”
For thousands of local families, having a baby is their introduction to NWH. For many, “it’s the beginning of a lifelong connection and commitment,” reflects Sujatha Ramadurai, MD, director of the Special Care Nursery.
Once Becky Staley delivered, she and husband Blake felt an immediate sense of being part of the NWH family. Knowing their infant son, Reed, would need weeks of care before going home, “we were hoping passionately that he’d be able to stay at Newton-Wellesley,” they reflect.
Dr. Ramadurai was one of the first physicians they saw to discuss next steps. Sometimes her team’s role with a family starts in the delivery room. In other cases, if a potential need is identified ahead, they meet with parents prenatally, often in coordination with MFM. “We help reassure them and prepare them for what to expect,” she explains.
As a Level 2B SCN, Newton-Wellesley can keep babies who are born at 32 weeks or beyond, including those like Reed who need initial respiratory support. In 2020, the Special Care Nursery grew from 12 to 16 beds. It’s also grown in the level of complexity of the cases they can help with, including neurocritical and subspecialty care.
“For the right baby, our nursery provides a calming, nurturing environment,” Dr. Ramadurai says. When she talks about the long list of developmental caregivers, she lights up. Thanks to the multidisciplinary team, “we offer so much more than other community hospitals.” Along with having subspecialties based right at NWH, being part of Mass General Brigham provides ready access to any other needs of the patient.
The wider team of all of the perinatal departments—from Obstetrics to MFM to neonatology—meets monthly to promote integration and collaboration. “No one area is independent,” she says. “We function together.” Personally, “I love interacting with the families we take care of,” she adds. After joining the SCN team 15 years ago, she took on the director’s role in 2018. “I understand how stressful it is to have a baby who needs special care. To have a baby period is stressful.” Within the nursery, “we hope to help families feel supported and know that they’re a very important part of the care team.”
In the seven weeks that Reed spent in the Special Care Nursery, the Staleys became among its most devoted fans. Becky herself was in the hospital for five days after giving birth. When she was discharged, “leaving him was absolutely the most gut-wrenching thing that we had to do.”
She remembers how one of the SCN nurses “really pulled us up from our darkest times.” To Becky, “she was our saving grace.” She comforted and empowered them as parents. “We’ll never forget her,” says Becky. “Never ever,” nods Blake.
In their minds, everyone went above and beyond. During their daily visits, all of the nurses were so empathetic. “They promised that soon enough this will be a blip in our rearview mirror,” Becky recounts. “They helped us emotionally and taught us so much.”
In spending so much time there, the Staleys built relationships with everyone. “They took care of us as parents as much as they took care of Reed,” says Becky.
“Not only did we feel treated like family, we witnessed how they were a family,” Blake adds. “We were able to peek behind the curtain, and what we saw was beautiful.”
Now, when they bring Reed to see Dr. Blumenthal, it’s at the same pediatrics office that Blake went to growing up. “We’re continuing the journey and legacy,” he says. “We feel an ocean of gratitude.”
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