On June 28 at 6:10 p.m., the final call of "baby boy, United States Navy arriving," echoed throughout Naval Hospital Pensacola. James Robert Bishop will go in the records as the last baby born at NHP.
On July 1, the labor and delivery services at NHP stopped after thousands of babies cried for the first time throughout the years.
Since 1976, over 27,000 babies have been delivered at NHP. In the early 1980s, NHP averaged almost 1,000 births a year, but that number has reduced in recent years to around 400 births a year.
"As the number of deliveries have declined over the years, it became increasingly difficult to maintain the required skills for the active duty service members assigned to the Labor and Delivery Ward," said Capt. Amy Branstetter, commanding officer, Naval Hospital Pensacola. "Those active duty service members will be reassigned to other Military Treatment Facilities where they will be able to maintain the skills to be battle field ready if needed."
Despite some sadness over the termination of labor and delivery services, the staff at NHP has remained positive and have enjoyed the memories they had of working in a ward that brought so much joy to so many families.
Capt. Frances Barendse, the director for nursing services at NHP, recalled her first duty assignment in 1984 as a corpsman with the Labor and Delivery Ward at NHP.
"I remember the first time I saw a baby being born and was handed the baby to clear its airway," said Barendse. "I learned so much and became proficient in so many skills from working in the Labor and Delivery Ward."
Adonna Jones, a registered nurse, worked in the Labor and Delivery Ward since 2000 and has the most experience in the ward of all current employees.
"It was a joy to work in the Labor and Delivery Ward," said Jones with pride. "We were one of the first naval hospitals to allow moms to deliver and remain in the same room throughout their stay."
Jones will transfer to NHP's new Pediatric Clinic that is scheduled to open on July 9. Despite her sadness about no longer working on Labor and Delivery Ward, she is excited about her new responsibilities in the Pediatric Clinic and continuing to care for families at NHP.
For Michaela and Ensign Jacob Bishop, a flight student at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Florida, the couple enjoyed the attention they and their son received as the last patients in the Labor Delivery Ward.
"We got a lot of special attention and everyone treated us so well," said Michaela, who is a first time mother. "I was just glad I got to deliver at NHP because I had heard some many great things from other mothers who delivered here."
With labor and delivery services no longer available at NHP, all expectant mothers enrolled to the hospital will be referred to the civilian network for care. A newly formed Care Coordination Team will assist patients referred to the network and will even visit patients in the hospital. The team will ensure the mother and newborn are receiving the care they need and will schedule appointments with the mother's physician and the newborn's pediatrician at NHP after delivery.
"Our patients are our patients regardless of where they get their care," said Branstetter. "The Care Coordination Team will ensure our patients receive the care they need and deserve."
NHP also has a new Comprehensive Women's Health Center that focuses on the health care needs of women of all ages. The Center will provide a free class called "Empowering Moms: Pregnancy and Post-Partum Support for Mom and Baby" to all TRICARE beneficiaries. The class will be held on the fourth Thursday of each month and is for new and expecting moms and families. For more information on the class, please call (850) 505-6287.