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Healthy moms. Strong babies. Meet the HCA Healthcare faces behind the March of Dimes mission

Woman wearing face mask holding two babies in hospital

HCA Healthcare is privileged to be a national partner with March of Dimes, an organization that leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. Together, we work to end preterm birth and unite communities everywhere to achieve health equity for moms and babies alike.

Through our partnership, HCA Healthcare has contributed towards advocacy priorities that advance research and that has the potential to improve the lives of moms, babies and families across the country.

Did you know?

Our network of hospitals welcomes more babies than any other U.S. healthcare provider in the country — more than 215,000 babies were delivered in 2020.

In 2021, our HCA Healthcare family is participating in March for Babies: A Mother of a Movement™, a virtual awareness and fundraising campaign to address the ongoing maternal and health crisis by raising critical funds in support of life-saving research, programs and educational initiatives.

Collage of photos of mothers with their children.

This Saturday, May 15, 2021, HCA Healthcare is bringing our colleagues and communities together for a virtual walk to honor motherhood, babies and families. Please consider joining us for our national virtual walk – safely at home or wherever you can – to support moms and babies during their greatest time of need. Here’s how you can join:

  • Start by signing up today at marchforbabies.org/HCA to create a team or join an existing team
  • Commit to walking on Saturday, May 15, 2021
  • Share on your social media pages why you’re helping to lead the fight for the health of all moms and babies.
  • Remember to tag @HCAHealthcare and @MarchOfDimes and use #HCAUniteForMoms, #HCAUniteForBabies and #MarchForBabies hashtags

Mission stories

Everyone has a story. To encourage you on your virtual walk, we’re sharing eight brave and honest stories of HCA Healthcare families and colleagues who inspire us to work even harder in support of March of Dimes’ mission. See how they inspire you below…

Care like family

Las Palmas Medical Center
El Paso, Texas

Woman wearing face mask holding two babies in hospital.
Jaqueline Wade holds her two twin boys – Josiah and Jonah – after delivering them at 26 weeks at Las Palmas Medical Center in El Paso, Texas.

After delivering twin girls for her first pregnancy and another baby girl for a second pregnancy, Jaqueline Wade thought she knew what to expect for her third pregnancy. After a routine sonogram at week 14, Jaqueline and her husband Jonathan received confirmation of a surprise twin pregnancy – and this time, twin boys.

The couple’s excitement waned when at week 20 Jaqueline’s doctor found that the baby boys’ umbilical cords were at risk of entanglement. At week 26, the boys’ hearts were slowing to dangerous levels and Jaqueline had to undergo a C-section. Baby boys Josiah and Jonah were born weighing barely two pounds each. The twins’ life depended on the expert care of a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

After spending 92 days in the NICU at affiliate Las Palmas Medical Center, baby Josiah was discharged home; but, baby Jonah would need to remain in the NICU because of complications with his delicate digestive organs. Jonah has undergone four surgeries during his young life and is now healthily gaining weight so that he can join his brother and family at home soon.

Jaqueline credits the NICU nurses at the Las Palmas Women’s Center as part of her support network and notes that the nurses caring for her twin boys are like family to her.

March for Babies: a powerful opportunity for families, health care providers and the community to come together

Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children
Denver, Colorado

Female nurse wearing scrubs and a face mask.
HCA Healthcare nurse Christy Browning stands ready to serve at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver, Colorado.

HCA Healthcare nurse Christy Browning’s passion for the March of Dimes spans more than a decade and two states. As a NICU nurse, she was involved with the organization for seven years in Los Angeles and four years at HCA Healthcare’s Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.  She loves March of Dimes’ focus on cutting edge research and funding for advanced NICU care. In addition, she has been particularly appreciative of the organization’s emphasis on supporting minority populations and maternal care.

Through Christy’s time with March of Dimes, she served on the Colorado Regional Chapter Board and would bring fellow board members to the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children NICU to share insights from the frontlines.

Christy appreciates the March for Babies campaign and sees it as a powerful opportunity for families, health care providers and the community to come together. While the event itself is full of fun, smiles and (pre-COVID) hugs, she says that “one of the more moving parts of the event is how welcoming it is to all families, even ones who have known loss…the Remembrance Gardens help keep people present in the realities of what some families face.”

Cervical cancer survivor, hysterectomy patient receives gift of motherhood from healthcare hero

Medical City Healthcare
Dallas, Texas

Woman in hospital bed holding newborn baby with another woman and two men surrounding her.
On March 4 at 10:34pm, surrogate Kasia Birdwell gave birth to a healthy 8 pound, 14 ounce baby boy named Richard Edwin Gray V at Medical City Dallas

Dreams of becoming a mother came true at HCA Healthcare’s Medical City Dallas Hospital for Dallas, Texas based Erica Gray – a stage three cervical cancer survivor and hysterectomy patient – thanks to the generosity of a Medical City Plano healthcare hero, who volunteered to be a surrogate.

“I can’t believe a complete stranger would do something so selfless and generous — she is truly a healthcare hero in so many ways,” says new mother, Erica. “Because of this amazing caregiver, we now have this precious baby we have dreamed of for so long.”

Diagnosed with cervical cancer seven years ago at age 27, Erica immediately sought the expertise of Medical City Plano gynecologic oncologist Dr. Thomas Heffernan. Faced with a decision that would prevent her from carrying a baby, but could save her life, Erica underwent a hysterectomy.

Seven years later, when Dr. Heffernan mentioned a cancer patient’s desire to have a biological child, his long-time surgical tech, Kasia Birdwell, voiced interest in helping.

Despite the challenges of elective healthcare during a pandemic and Kasia’s ongoing responsibilities at work, school and home, both families successfully navigated COVID-19 safety protocols to a successful pregnancy in June 2020.

On March 4 at 10:34pm, Kasia gave birth to a healthy 8 pound, 14 ounce baby boy named Richard Edwin Gray V at Medical City Dallas, to cheers and tears in the delivery room. Watch the full story on CBS Evening News.

Providing a support system for families

Memorial Health
Savannah, Georgia

A female lactation consultant wearing a white lab coat.
HCA Healthcare’s Shawntay Gadson provides lactation support to new mothers at Memorial Health in Georgia.

Shawntay Gadson has a passion for helping HCA Healthcare patients through their breastfeeding journeys at affiliate Memorial Health in Savannah, Georgia. She has worked with countless families in both the Mother Baby Unit and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

“The March of Dimes family support system is extremely valuable. Most parents in the NICU are feeling a sense of loss, in addition to mourning the loss of their planned birth experience. My goal has always been to help the parents’ loss feel like a gain. In the NICU, our parents gain a family – a support system that will be here throughout their journey,” said Shawntay.

“Seeing the parents find joy and strength through one of the most challenging times in their lives gives me purpose. I love knowing that I can be their lactation consultant and their support system. I took on the goal of creating a Mother’s Day Brunch to continue that support while honoring our amazing parents.”

Baby Juliet’s 124-day NICU journey 

Mission Hospital
Asheville, North Carolina

On left, a newborn baby in the NICU, and on right, the same baby playing outside.
Then and now: HCA Healthcare patient, Juliet Webb, is thriving after coming into the world at Mission Hospital weighing a pound and half.

After having two babies who were around 10 pounds at birth, expectant mom Mary Webb was surprised to learn that her baby was measuring a little smaller than anticipated. “My babies were always big, so at my 20-week ultrasound it was different to hear that she was a few weeks behind in size,” said Mary.

With skyrocketing blood pressure and some weight gain, Mary was admitted to Mission Hospital at approximately 25 weeks, where she planned to be on bed rest until hopefully delivering her baby at 34 weeks. Baby Juliet instead arrived via C-section at 25 weeks and 2 days weighing about a pound and a half.

After a 124-day stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), baby Juliet is home and doing well – eating and breathing on her own.

Mary credits her NICU team, calling them surrogate parents to Juliet and like family to her. “The NICU team – Wendy, Kristina, Nicole, Laura – everyone – answered all of my questions, cared for my baby when I or my husband couldn’t be there and kept me informed during our entire stay.”

COVID-19 patient gives birth while on a ventilator

TriStar Centennial Medical Center
Nashville, Tennessee

Woman wearing face mask holding newborn baby.
COVID-19 patient Jessica Rowlett delivered her son via emergency C-section after she was placed on a ventilator at TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

HCA Healthcare patient Jessica Rowlett gave birth to her second child, Rowdy, on May 31, 2021 through an emergency C-section at TriStar Centennial Medical Center that took place while she was on a ventilator due to COVID-19.

Born at 33 weeks and weighing 4 pounds, 15 ounces, Rowdy was taken to the hospital NICU where he was placed on a feeding tube because he was too tiny to feed from a bottle and Jessica was unable to breastfeed.

After the delivery, Jessica had to be placed on an ECMO machine and did not see her son until a month after his birth. Registered nurse Mary Shea told Good Morning America that “it was pretty incredible to see all that she went through and how strong she was and how poised she was through the entire process.”

Over the course of several weeks, Jessica Rowlett and her son Rowdy both slowly and miraculously began regaining their strength and were eventually discharged from the hospital on the same day after a month long stay.

“He’s definitely my miracle baby,” Jessica said.

Mom thankful for March of Dimes after sons’ NICU stays

HCA Houston Healthcare
Houston, Texas

Collage of photos of two baby boys in the NICU and now at ages 8 and 10.
Lucas and Elias were both born premature at HCA Healthcare’s The Woman’s Hospital of Texas – one even being categorized as a micro-preemie. The boys are now ages 8 and 10 and are flourishing.

Narse Funes is a full-time boy mom and a proud advocate for March of Dimes. Narse – a mother of three thriving bouncing boys, two of whom are now NICU graduates – is very connected to HCA Healthcare’s The Woman’s Hospital of Texas where she’s spent countless hours watching two of her sons grow.

Her firstborn is 12 years old and was a full-term baby. Narse and her husband suffered the loss of their second child due to a miscarriage. They eventually expanded their family adding their second and third sons, Lucas Funes and Elias Funes. Lucas and Elias were both born premature – one even being categorized as a micro-preemie. Narse’s preemie sons are now ages 8 and 10 and are flourishing.

Narse uses her experience with her NICU babies to offer support and comfort for current NICU baby mothers going through challenges.

“We were so grateful to be able to do memorable things at the hospital through the March of Dimes events,” says Narse. “From the sibling groups that helped our oldest two understand what the NICU was to the holiday parties that brought a sense of normalcy to our lives, March of Dimes really helped put an umbrella over us as we went through the storm.”

HCA Healthcare colleague shares her “why”

Methodist Healthcare
San Antonio, Texas

Woman holding newborn baby.
HCA Healthcare colleague Audrey Milligan holds her premature son, Ezra.

For HCA Healthcare colleague, Audrey Milligan, healthcare is a family affair. Her mother and sisters have all worked in healthcare and with HCA Healthcare affiliate Methodist Healthcare during their careers.

“I truly came to appreciate all that healthcare is about when my son was born prematurely at 24 weeks and 6 days.  I watched daily, for five months, how everyone involved in his care showed compassion, commitment, respect, and integrity – and truly cared for us like family,” said Audrey, a public relations and event coordinator for Methodist Healthcare.

Thankful for the care provided to her son and his health today, Audrey shares how her journey eventually led her to a career at HCA Healthcare:

“The experience I had with my son’s birth is what helped solidify my journey in healthcare and eventually led me to Methodist Healthcare.  I am so fortunate to work with a company whose mission and values are to work for the better of the community around them and lift it up as well. This is why I love what I do every day with my job by helping to serve our community and finding partnerships to help us in our overall mission: Above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life.”

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 186 hospitals and more than 2,000 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our approximately 275,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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