A different, more uplifting view of KEMH
I am writing to you in response to Christa Fubler’s Letter to the Editor dated July 18, regarding her experience at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital’s maternity ward.
While I sympathise with Ms Fubler’s experience and give her and her child all of my best wishes, I would like to provide an alternative, wholly positive experience we experienced last week at KEMH from a first-time father’s perspective.
We attended the maternity ward on July 12 for a scheduled induction at 8am.
We were greeted warmly by the staff and shown to the birthing room, which would be our “home” for the duration of the labour. Admittedly, the room and the ward itself would have greatly benefited from a move over to the new wing of the hospital, but the architects gratuitously chose a large atrium over the more logical option of optimising the available footprint for the actual needs of the hospital. However, we will overlook this and the 1980s peachy pink colour scheme of the labour room and focus on what really matters.
Our arrival coincided with the commencement of the nurses’ 12-hour shift on that day. We were introduced to our maternity nurse, Charlene (No 1). She immediately put myself and my wife at ease from the outset, as we exchanged introductions, small talk interspersed with humour all delivered with the warmth of her Jamaican accent.
Every time she entered the room she would diligently explain what she was doing, what was to be administered in the drips, the purpose of the medication and the effects my wife would experience. She asked us whether we had a birth plan but, as we are not medical professionals, we responded that our birth plan would simply be “whatever the doctors and nurses felt would be in the best interests of mother and child”, albeit with a preference of my wife receiving an epidural at some point during the labour.
As an accountant myself and having never watched the television show ER, medical terms are lost on me, but the cardiotocography machine next to the bed showing numbers and printing real-time graphs of both mother and baby’s vital statistics captured my attention, and Charlene took the time to talk me through what the numbers meant and their correlation, and what we should see as the labour progressed.
Whenever Charlene left the room, she would tell us how long she would be away from the room for and even offered liquid refreshments for mum and dad at a frequency that would put most eating establishments to shame.
The GPA on duty, Richard Hammond — not the one from the BBC’s Top Gear — was equally informative talking us through the epidural process in great detail, which also conveyed the pride he took in his profession.
We were fortunate that both the labour and birth were textbook-like in execution, with Dr Wade presenting our beautiful newborn baby aloft, all 9lb 5oz of her, in a scene reminiscent of Rafiki holding Simba at Pride Rock in The Lion King. We were blessed that this magical moment took place right at the end of Charlene’s shift, as we were able to share the climax of this magical 12-hour journey with her by our side throughout — she even stayed beyond her shift to make sure that the three of us were all OK.
Despite the maternity ward being unusually full, considering the falling birthrates in Bermuda, the aftercare we received over the next three days remained faultless.
A day later, having had some limited success with breastfeeding, Charlene (No 2) sat down with my wife at 11pm for nearly an hour, guiding mother and baby on the best technique to breastfeed, which they both continue to observe.
We left the hospital on Day 3, with a tentative walk back into the reality of the world that exists outside of the KEMH maternity ward with apprehension on how we would survive without the care and support afforded to us by all the nursing team of KEMH. However, thanks to their guidance on everything from washing the baby, which is like holding on to a slippery bar of soap, to changing a diaper, we had the foundations in place to look after the most precious thing we will ever hold.
For this, we are for ever indebted to the staff of KEMH and all the fantastic work they do — they, unlike the Neymars and LeBron Jameses of this world, deserve hero status and million-dollar contracts.
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