Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
Bay Pines Honors Veteran Mothers
An editorial by Donna M Sherman, LCSW-R, Women Veteran Program Manager
Bay Pines VA Health Care System
Maternity Care is a major program within VA Women Health Services. While expectant women Veterans are referred for obstetric care in the community, we recognize their needs extend beyond medical care and here at Bay Pines, we’re diligently working to fill the void.
On the eve of Mother’s Day, Saturday May 8th, many new expecting mothers lined up on the Bay Pines Campus for the first ‘Drive-thru’ Baby Shower hosted by the Women’s Health Clinic at the Bay Pines CW Young VA Medical Center.
We served more than twenty women Veterans from the ten counties included in our healthcare system. Over the next several months, 10 baby girls and 12 baby boys are expected to be born. Three families are eagerly awaiting the gender upon arrival.
Charmaine Gabino-Crooke, registered nurse, Bay Pines maternity care coordinator, led efforts to organize a drive thru baby shower, with help from Bay Pines nursing service, voluntary services, executive leadership, and a host of caring and concerned volunteers. It was a fantastic day for our new Veterans moms and a great collaboration from our staff!
We asked Charmaine what she liked best about being the Maternity Care Coordinator and she stated, “It’s like I am just here trying to help them get care established on the outside with OB [obstetric] providers and being there for them for anything that happens during the pregnancy. Expectant mothers need a lot of support!”
Hosting a baby shower takes a lot of time and planning. While planning the shower Charmaine said she was focused on obtaining any and all needed supplies for women with newborns.
“We worked with VA Voluntary Services and many community groups to obtain funding for supplies and actual supplies. I had to interface with our women Veterans to figure out what they most needed,” Charmaine noted.
Voluntary Services and other community service organizations contributed over $4,000 in various baby items and equipment, including strollers.
Charmaine lauded the teamwork and the impact joining forces made, namely, the ability for Bay Pines to personalize the gifts for each Veteran.
We hope these donations make a difference in the first few months of care and offer some peace of mind to our new mothers. We’re thrilled to hear the feedback from our Veterans.
The event was a great success, staff and Veterans in attendance had a wonderful time. While we must all wait for the names and faces of the new babies, this celebration of life holds a place in the hearts of both Veterans and staff alike!
A big thanks to the following organizations and individuals: the Florida Department of VFW Auxiliary, led by Dorothy Sullivan, with contributions of over $3,100.00 for the purchase of bags and baby items to stock in them. The American Legion Post 273 Riders, Director Lou Theberge, Captain of the Riders George Vandenburgh, and Penny Rase unit Quartermaster, who provided over $1,700.00 in diapers, wipes, and various other items expecting mothers rely on. The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 273, Treasurer Ms. Vivian Hans, provided 20 backpacks full of maternity and baby items. And the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. represented by Paul Surenky Post 409, provided ten standing tandem strollers for women Veterans attending the event.