At 35-weeks pregnant, Irmo native and Columbia resident Hallie Willm Biediger went to Lexington Women’s Care, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, for a routine pregnancy visit in April. But the appointment turned out to be anything but ordinary.
Doctors diagnosed Hallie with preeclampsia, a condition that occurs during pregnancy characterized by factors including high blood pressure, swelling and signs of organ damage. Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious, even fatal, complications for mom and baby.
Hallie also developed a rapid heartbeat during pregnancy.
After two weeks of modified bed rest and four days of carefully monitoring Hallie around-the-clock in the hospital’s brand new antepartum rooms, doctors determined her preeclampsia had become severe. The only treatment for it was to deliver the baby, and the doctors told Hallie and her husband, Brooks, that was exactly what was about to happen.
“We were terrified,” Hallie says. “I had a plan. The baby wasn’t supposed to be born until May. My house wasn’t ready. My hospital bag wasn’t packed.”
At 4:30 p.m. on April 25, 2019, John Michael “Jack” Biediger came into the world by cesarean section at Lexington Medical Center, weighing 6 pounds, 14 ounces. But doctors and nurses soon noticed his lungs weren't fully developed, and his oxygen saturation was lower than normal.
Like all babies born before 37 weeks gestation, Jack went to Lexington Medical Center’s new Special Care Nursery, a 20-bed unit where the hospital’s tiniest patients have private rooms, a new model of care for the hospital.
“The private Special Care Nursery rooms help neurodevelopment,” says Ginger Moore, RN, BSN, who has worked with premature babies at Lexington Medical Center for 20 years. “The quiet environment also helps the baby grow and make progress more quickly.”
And nurses know private rooms help parents bond with their babies.
“My husband and I were able to spend as much time with Jack as we wanted,” Hallie says. “Our parents could be there, too—and having them there made us feel better.”
She adds that the nurses were friendly and attentive, answering all of their questions and demonstrating expertise in caring for pre-term babies.
A Legacy of Welcoming Babies
Delivering babies is an important part of the care Lexington Medical Center provides to community residents. The hospital delivers approximately 3,300 babies each year—more than any other hospital in the Midlands.
In March, Lexington Medical Center opened a 545,000-square-foot patient care tower. The tower is the new home of the hospital’s women’s and children’s services. The labor and delivery unit there has spacious rooms flooded with natural light and a dedicated area for patients who come to the hospital in labor or those who need temporary evaluation. There are also six antepartum rooms for patients who may need extensive long-term monitoring.
“We're offering the finest delivery suites and obstetric services in South Carolina,” says Tod Augsburger, president and CEO of Lexington Medical Center.
A hallmark of the new unit is a mosaic containing more than 4,000 photos of babies born at the hospital since it opened in 1971. In all, more than 100,000 babies have been born at Lexington Medical Center.
Caring for these tiny patients begins before they’re born throughout Lexington Medical Center’s network of care.
The hospital’s physician network includes approximately 30 obstetricians and certified nurse midwives. A new member of the team is Paul Browne, MD, FACOG, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. He helps women with high-risk or complicated pregnancies, which includes teen pregnancies, twins, triplets and abnormalities of the uterus and cervix.
“The best way to prevent having a premature baby is to have frequent visits with your doctor to review any warning signs of pre-term labor,” Dr. Browne says.
A Happy Ending
While Hallie was discharged from the hospital, baby Jack spent a full week in the Special Care Nursery before going home to Columbia.
“Every mother thinks she’s going to leave the hospital with her baby—that’s what you’re supposed to do. That didn’t happen for us. But the nurses at Lexington Medical Center made us feel like everything was going to be OK.”
And Jack was OK. Today, he is a healthy, thriving baby. Hallie says you’d never know he was a preemie.