Caring for others: Shelby Baptist NICU nurses go the extra mile

Published 4:15 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer 

ALABASTER – A nurse manager receives a notification on her phone—it’s another smiling photo from a child who received intensive care in the Labor and Delivery Unit at Shelby Baptist Medical Center.

One of the previous managers at the Labor and Delivery unit for Shelby Baptist Medical Center continues to update the nurse manager on the life progress of his son who received intensive medical care years ago.

“His son’s going to kindergarten orientation tomorrow,” Nurse Manager for Labor and Delivery Shawn Yarbrough said. “He sends me something every week, every milestone.”

Although his son is doing well now, years ago the family found itself in a difficult situation.

“He had a stint in our ICU,” Yarbrough said. “It was a pretty scary situation when his wife came in.”

However, the child received care and was able to pull through.

“It was taken care of and it’s a feeling that you can’t describe—to know that we participated in his birth but also somebody we knew because we worked with the father,” Yarbrough said. “For him to think enough of how we managed to take care of him and his wife and his son and he continues to send us pictures and tell everybody about Shelby.”

This is just one instance of how Shelby Baptist Medical Center’s Labor and Delivery and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit continues to provide a family-oriented service to the local community.

“It’s extremely rewarding for you to be a part of that,” Yarbrough said. “To see a first-time mother and a father or to see a family member or a patient that may have experienced a loss, and they’ve had a successful pregnancy. Those are moments that we find joy in, and we hope families that we take care of find joy.”

Yarbrough shared that she isn’t the only one on staff who has recurring visits from previous patients.

“We have patients that come back and (one nurse) has a patient that (has) come back now for seven years,” she said. “On the anniversary of his discharge from the NICU, they come back and they visit the staff, and we have stories like that over the last—almost 30 years with patients coming back, sending cards or being very appreciative of the care that they’ve received here.”

That lasting bond comes from the amount of time that staff spend with the patients and their love of the field they work in.

“They love what they do,” said Rachelle O’Neal, nurse manager for the Neonatal Intensive Care unit. “I don’t think I have a nurse that doesn’t just love what they do. In fact, we’ve had some of our nurses sign up to be foster parents. Not only do they (serve) here, they open up their homes for these babies that don’t have anywhere to go when they leave here. When I see that, I’m almost in awe of how important it is to them. It’s not just a job for them.”

Yarbrough explained the types of assistance that Shelby Baptist Medical Center’s Labor and Delivery and Neonatal intensive Care unit provides.

The labor and delivery staff are trained to support mothers during labor and delivery and to help treat pregnancy complications. The nurses also serve as educators and can help families learn how to take care of the baby after delivery.

“They’re here to support the mothers and the families and to be a part of that experience during labor and delivery,” Yarbrough said.

The unit also has prenatal educators with in person and virtual prenatal classes as well as lactation consultants to assist mothers with breastfeeding.

“We want to always make sure that they know that they still have support after they go home because breastfeeding can be very difficult once they get home also.” Yarbrough said.

O’Neal expressed her thoughts on the staff that make the everyday operations in the unit possible.

“I feel like we have a staff that’s been working together for a while,” she said. “I think that family-centered care is important to them.”

Yarbrough expressed that the staff feels very close to each other.

“We ourselves are a family,” she said. “Very supportive of each other, I know they were extremely supportive of me over the past year and kept everything going and at a high level of performance. (I) couldn’t ask for a better staff.”

Yarbrough emphasized the importance of the work that herself and the staff do.

“We want to be available to the mothers and fathers and the families in the area,” she said. “This is the only hospital that delivers babies between Montgomery and the Birmingham area. So, we find it very important for us to be here and support families.”

Those interested in learning more about Shelby Baptist Medical Center may visit its website at