Putting Families at the Center of Care

After grandson’s premature gift, Johnson’s jump at the opportunity to support new Birthways unit

Johnson Family - Jeff & Peggy Johnson with Krystal & Cole Martin and childrenWatching Tony Wayne Martin giggle on his grandpa’s lap, it is tough to imagine his entry into the world was anything other than ordinary. Flanked on grandpa’s other knee by his little sister, Emmy Marie, he is happy, healthy and looks ready to take on anything thrown his way.

Tony’s zest for life was developed from Day 1, as he required a week of intensive care after his premature birth. While he managed that first week like a champ, thinking back on that time stirs up several emotions for his grandparents, Jeff and Peggy Johnson, of Ames.

Born on July 12, 2015, Tony’s birth came as a surprise to everyone in the family.

Krystal Martin, the Johnsons’ daughter, had battled high blood pressure resulting from the pregnancy for weeks. As her blood pressure spiked that second week of July, she made a visit to her provider. As attempts to control her blood pressure fell short, the decision was made to induce labor.

As fate would have it, Krystal’s husband, Cole, was on a planned trip outside the country, and Jeff was on a business trip to Chicago. As Cole and Jeff scrambled to get back to Ames, Krystal and Peggy placed their faith in God and their trust in the caregivers on the Birthways unit at Mary Greeley Medical Center.

“When the decision was made to induce labor, our faith allowed us to place our trust in the doctors, and we felt comfortable with that,” Peggy recalls. “At that point, my goal was to remain calm so Krystal could remain calm. All her providers and caregivers helped with that. They kept us informed and were very kind.”

Going to great lengths to secure transportation back to Ames—Cole was in Iceland—both Cole and Jeff were able to get back to town in time for the birth. Tony arrived weighing in at 4 pounds and 5 ounces. He was immediately taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where he spent a week. He was underweight, because of being born prematurely and struggled to eat for a few days. He, thankfully, didn’t have any major complications and spent his time in the NICU building up his strength.

Looking back on the experience, Jeff says that he was confident Krystal, Cole and Tony were in good hands on the Birthways unit.

“We knew they would be taken care of,” Jeff says. “They have the services, the doctors, the nurses, the equipment. That created a sense of calm for us. Both Krystal and Cole, and Peggy and I, could rest easy knowing there were qualified people and facilities available to us.”

Impressed with the care delivered to their daughter and first grandchild, it was an easy decision for the Johnsons to make a gift in support of the new Birthways unit. Among the major enhancements, is one close to the Johnsons’ heart.

The unit will allow for NICU-level care to be delivered in each room. That represents a major shift from the conventional care model—the model used during Tony’s stay—where NICU services are delivered from a centralized area on the unit. The change is designed to ensure families can remain together throughout their stay, even when new babies require critical care.

Jeff Johnson and his grandsonsJeff says the gift, which was made in Tony’s name, is meant to pay forward the care they are so grateful for, and to recognize the exceptional service delivered to their family.

“This is Tony’s story, not ours,” Jeff says. “As such, the nature of this gift is important to us because it shows Tony how he can make a difference. This whole journey, at the end of the day, is about him. It's also about the staff. We saw them going back and forth ensuring Krystal and Cole were always informed of what was happening with Tony. We cannot say enough about how wonderful the staff were.”

“This new model of care will make that process more efficient for the care team,” he continues. “Anything we can do to help the staff serve families while delivering an excellent level of care is in line with what we want to support.”

Peggy says she is humbled to know that the gift in her grandson’s name will play a role in ensuring families can spend as much time together following birth as possible.

“It is a wonderful feeling to be able to support this project,” Peggy says. “This is all about family. Mary Greeley is putting an emphasis on keeping the family together during the time they are there. Keeping them together, especially when the baby might require special care, allows them all to be there and support each other. That was a major thing for us.”

Family-Centered Care: An Innovative Approach

As more and more families trust their care to our specially-trained providers, our vision has grown. We are re-imagining our Birthways and Pediatrics units in a way we are confident other hospitals will follow.

In the summer of 2020, we launched an ambitious project that will transform the way care is delivered to mothers, newborns, children, and all those who love them.

Following the science, our modernized Birthways and Pediatrics units are designed with best practices at its core. Employing a model in use in only a handful of hospitals nationwide, it will achieve our vision to provide an environment of healing with features that engage children, and put a premium on family involvement, privacy, and comfort.

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