Every UAB employee is a VIP when they are a patient of UAB Women and Infants Services, says Madonna Nichols and the group’s nursing staff.

Cheryl Smith, a registered nurse in Women and Infants Services, goes over a feeding schedule for newborn Jayden Richards with mom Kara Richards.

“We’re constantly exploring ways to make our service of greater value,” says Nichols, director of Women and Infants Services. “Part of what we’re here for is to provide our patients a better experience than they could receive at a private hospital. Everyone knows we’ve got the best technical expertise at UAB, but we also provide the touching care every woman and family desires.”

Freda Centor, coordinator of parent and patient information, puts it this way: “We have the touch and the tech,” she says.

One of the ways Women and Infants Services is providing more for all of its patients is by making an even greater commitment to high-quality patient care.

An example of that endeavor is the current training of every nurse and patient care technician to become Breastfeeding Educators. More than 60 percent of the nurses and PCTs already have undergone the two-day training to become educators, meaning that mothers who need guidance learning to breastfeed can find the help they need any time of the day or night.

Nichols says every nurse should be a breastfeeding educator by the end of 2007.

“We really took a hard and critical look at our lactation program and decided we’d rather have 500 folks who have all the information they need to support the mom, instead of just a few,” Nichols says. “We want the bedside nurse to be able to get the mom going, give her the initial guidance and support. Then we have lactation consultants available to help, as well.

“It’s enabled us to have people working as a team, and the feedback we’ve been receiving from our patients so far has been tremendous.”

Other services also are available to UAB employees and others who elect to have their children here, including newborn screenings and follow-ups.

The state of Alabama requires a small number of screenings that are mandatory to test for certain genetic defects, but UAB offers additional tests that look for more than 50 genetic diseases. The goal is to make sure the family has as much information at its disposal as possible about the long-term health of their child.

“If there’s a valuable test available we’re going to be sure we do it,” Nichols says. “We’d rather help the parent find out if there is a problem and make sure the baby gets the follow-ups scheduled he or she needs.”

Of course, UAB also has world-renowned specialists in neonatology and obstetrics who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, guaranteeing you and your child will receive the best possible care.

Having a child – whether it’s your first, second, third or fourth – is a special event, Nichols says. And if you choose to celebrate this with family and friends, she is pleased to have them as visitors.

But if you also need or desire more privacy than that, she promises those needs will be met. Your name can be taken out of the directory if you wish, aiding in keeping friends or co-workers from interfering with you if you want rest and privacy – or just want it to be a special time with your immediate family.

“When you take care of a baby, you’re taking care of the entire family,” Nichols says. “We strive to offer the highest quality of all-around care we can every day and feel privileged to provide that nurturing care to our employees here at UAB.”