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St. Vincent Healthcare welcomes first baby of 2024 after record breaking year

Posted at 5:37 PM, Jan 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-02 10:07:21-05

BILLINGS — Born at 1:28 a.m. on Monday morning, Marigold Woods was the first baby born in Billings at St. Vincent Healthcare in 2024. Her birth follows a record breaking year for the hospital as nearly 2,000 babies were born there in 2023.

The year started off just right for Billings residents Deborah and Jeremiah Woods.

“Absolutely no idea that she was going to be born on New Year’s Day,” said Deborah Woods at St. Vincent Healthcare Monday afternoon.

Born happy and healthy at six pounds and 12 ounces, baby Goldy now joins three siblings.

“Big brother who’s the oldest, he’s now got three sisters. He really wished that she was going to be a boy,” joked Deborah.

The Woods Family

Marigold's birth came after a historic year for the hospital.

“We kind of have the feel for as the months go on, we’re like, yup, we’re going to definitely have a record here,” said Melissa Jennings, St. Vincent Healthcare's Director of Women and Children's Services.

1,847 babies were delivered at the hospital last year, an increase from the 1,653 delivered in 2022. It's something Sara Donohue saw firsthand as a registered nurse in their neonatal intensive care unit, the first Level III NICU in Billings.

“We see about 10% of the population of babies [that] needs some kind of resuscitation at birth. So, if you have more babies, you’re going to see more babies that need additional support,” Donohue said.

Those babies, along with Marigold, were born in the hospital's newly remodeled one million dollar Birthing Center.

“We are going to have more labor rooms and more NICU rooms. We are going to be going to single patient family rooms in the NICU, so right now, we have an open baby concept,” said Jennings.

Marigold Woods

It's this effort that has earned the hospital nationwide recognition. U.S. News and World Report distinguished St. Vincent Healthcare as a high performing hospital in maternity care.

“Patient safety is one of our top priorities so always want to make sure our patients are safe with their babies. And obviously that’s getting out there and people want to keep coming to us,” said Joy Schacht, St. Vincent's Labor and Delivery Clinical Supervisor.

St. Vincent Healthcare was also the first hospital in southeastern Montana to become a designated Baby Friendly Birth Facility, with the World Health Organization and UNICEF recognizing it as one of the best possible environments for breastfeeding across the country.

It's care that the Woods say exceeded their expectations.

"Compassion here has been amazing. And has made all the difference, been a very healing experience,” said Deborah.

And they're excited for a very special beginning to 2024.

“Thank you to the community in Billings for celebrating with us because we are so full of joy on her arrival,” Deborah said.