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The Meaning of Care Magazine

New Women and Newborns Center Delivers Care for Western Iowa

Published: Aug. 24, 2021

Above: Tara Slevin, vice president and chief philanthropy officer for Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital and the Jennie Edmundson Foundation; Dr. Norman Ferrer, OB/GYN; John P. Nelson; Anne Elizabeth Nelson; Dr. Tana Perry, OB/GYN; and Steve Baumert, former hospital president and CEO

The newly opened Women and Newborns Center at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital is meeting the needs of mothers and their babies throughout Southwest Iowa.

More than 225 babies have been born at the state-of-the-art facility in Council Bluffs since it opened its doors Dec. 15. Of that number, 17 babies who previously would have been transferred to Methodist Women’s Hospital in Omaha were able to remain in the redesigned Level II neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Jennie Edmundson.

“This new center is making a huge difference for the mothers who come here,” said Ashley Nihsen, MSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, director of Women and Newborns. “Babies who are born late preterm, from 34 weeks to 36 weeks, on average, will spend an extra 10 days in the NICU. For their mothers and families to be with them here at Jennie Edmundson and not have to travel farther is wonderful. We’ve had families who’ve had newborns in special care/NICU that were able to go home, see their other kids and then come back and stay at night with us because we were less than an hour from their home.”

The Anne Elizabeth Nelson Women and Newborns Center features six private delivery rooms, 12 postpartum rooms for mother/child bonding, a cesarean section suite, four Level II NICU bays, expanded space for childbirth education and prenatal breastfeeding education, and a larger waiting room area for family and friends, among other amenities.

The space also enhances the patient experience with features such as a Safe Place security system for newborns, portable fetal monitoring while patients are in labor and three Jacuzzi tubs for laboring moms.

Nihsen said the facility provides the medical staff with better clinical workflow as well as cardiac monitoring for postoperative cesarean section patients and central monitoring for newborns in the Level II NICU.

The facility would not have been possible without the donors who contributed to Jennie Edmundson Foundation’s $1.2 million campaign to remodel and equip the center, said Tara Slevin, vice president and chief philanthropy officer for the hospital and Foundation.

John P. and Anne Nelson were instrumental to the success of the funding campaign. John P. Nelson has been a member of the Jennie Edmundson Hospital board of directors for more than four decades and served as chairman for 14 years. His challenge grant was successfully matched by other donors and helped carry the Foundation’s campaign beyond its original goal.

John P. Nelson, chairman of the board of SilverStone Group, was one of the visionaries who helped establish the Iowa West Racing Association in 1984 and helped found the Iowa West Foundation in 1994 to support projects focusing on the community’s economy and quality of life. 

He said he requested to name the Women and Newborns Center in his wife’s honor to recognize her significant philanthropic and volunteer work, and because Jennie Edmundson is a special place for the Nelson family. John P. Nelson, his mother and his brother were born at Jennie Edmundson, as well as John and Anne’s three children, John H., Kate and Molly.

“When I initially joined the board of directors, we had a mission to build the hospital into a regional medical destination,” he said. “I caught on to that mission and have witnessed the improvements that have made Jennie Edmundson a premier medical facility in the area.”

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