Patient- and family-centered care made a difference to my family—an AAMC nurse’s story

Patient- and family-centered care made a difference to my family—an AAMC nurse’s story

It’s hard to believe that 29 years ago when I was hired to work in the ICU at AAMC, we only permitted family members to visit for 15 minutes, four times per day. Labor & Delivery was light years ahead of us. They permitted the woman giving birth to have at least one person present during her delivery, as long as she was having a natural birth.
Of course, this has changed and we now allow multiple members of the family—and even friends—to witness a birth. When a woman needs a Cesarean section, things get a little more complicated. Space is tight and the sterility of the environment must be preserved. So who should be permitted to accompany the expectant mother? 
Five years ago, my daughter, Cheree, was expecting her first baby. Her pregnancy had progressed normally and one night at about 3:00 a.m., I got a call: “Mom, I think my water broke!” She actually called me before her physician. My baby was having a baby!

Cheree and her husband came to my house then we all headed to the hospital. Two epidurals and eighteen hours later, her physician informed us that, although mom and baby were doing great, things were not progressing and she recommended a C-section.

Cheree began to cry, this was not something she had desired or planned, but after some discussion, she agreed that it was the best thing to do. Then came a tough choice: only one person could accompany her to the OR. Who should that be, her husband or her mom? She was scared and the thought of having me, her mom and a critical care nurse, in the OR with her provided a sense of security. What about her husband? This was his first baby, too! Ultimately, the right choice was made and her husband accompanied her into the OR. 

What if she didn’t have to make a choice?

I am so pleased to say that just a few months ago, this was our reality. Cheree delivered her third baby via C-section at AAMC and, thanks to AAMC’s recent commitment to patient- and family-centered care, both her husband and I were able to be present! He sat at the bedside while I watched from the Neonatal Resuscitation room. Everything was perfect–Cheree did fine, baby Abby (above) is beautiful, and all the staff were fantastic. Best of all, I was there to see my last grandchild born!

On the right, Cheree, her husband, and I prepare to enter the OR to welcome Abby to the world.

Patient- and family-centered care is not just a slogan—it’s what we do. It made a difference in my life and in the life of my family. Thank you so much.

-Sandy Fox, MSN, RN-BC


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