New deliveries to birth center: pool, playground

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital’s family birth center is focusing on growth. The center, which 18 months ago faced declining births and the loss of two of its three obstetricians, is getting a shot in the arm with the arrival of two new doctors. They’ll join two obstetricians already on the staff. Recruiting the doctors was the challenge, said Mitch Hanna, chief administrative officer. The hospital interviewed approximately a dozen candidates. “It usually takes a year to bring in new physicians,” he said this week. The doctors — Phil Kintner and Christopher Lindeken — will start work in November. Both have been practicing physicians for a number of years, Hanna said. “We’ve offered them a very competitive recruitment package,” Hanna said. “It’s a great community to live in and a great hospital to practice in.” The hospital went the extra mile to attract the best candidates. Part of that was designing a suite that will accommodate three physicians. The private-practice offices, located in the Auburn Sierra Building at the corner of Education Street and Highway 49, will allow the doctors to share office space and staff. “It’s becoming more and more difficult for physicians to practice successfully in solo practices because costs are going up,” Hanna said. “(This) will provide a much more efficient service.” The birth center also has a new manager, Registered Nurse Nory Sargeant. Sargeant, who has many years of obstetrics and gynecology experience, is looking forward to overseeing the expected growth. From 1996-2008, she was director of women’s and children’s services at Sutter Roseville. During that time, she was instrumental in the planning of the 16-bed neonatal intensive care unit, according to a press release. Sargeant emphasizes the personalized care the family birth center in Auburn offers. That was something new mom Vicki Merrill particularly liked about her stay there this week as she and her husband, Shane, welcomed their first child. “My husband was able to sleep on a recliner, which I know is not available at other hospitals,” she said by phone Wednesday from her hospital room. “So that made it convenient. And they keep the baby with us.” Merrill gave the experience high ratings. “I really thought it was great, although it’s my only impression of a birth center,” she said. “I thought the nurses were extremely helpful and professional.” Something that sets the center apart is its 24-7 pain management and anesthesia capability, Sargeant said. “Many smaller community hospitals don’t have that,” she explained. Another feature she hopes to have available soon is labor tub deliveries. “Water births have been around for a long time. It initiated out of the East Coast in the 1970s,” Sargeant said. “It’s been a form of natural birth. (The infants) are born into warm water. It’s an alternative for moms who don’t want to have medication. Actually warm water is found to be very soothing for the mother. “ The birth center is also getting a playground, to be constructed in a gated, secure patio area. “Many of the family birth center patients have young children already,” Hanna said. “So it is a nice area where kids can go out and run off a little energy. We hope to have that done within the next month or so. We’re looking at structures to find durable and safe equipment. Auburn Rotarians donated the money for it,” he added. In addition, the birth center is included in the hospital remodel, currently under way. In 2007, Sutter Auburn Faith had 500 deliveries. That number dropped to about 360 in 2008 and is on track for 360 to 375 this year. Gloria Young can be reached at