501Der Women 2024: Closer to Home

Courtney Sick, MD, says closeness to home is a crucial factor for her patients. Sick, an obstetrician/gynecologist, treats her patients and their babies like family, and changes at Conway Regional over the years have allowed for specialized prenatal care and labor and delivery services in Conway, keeping the family unit local.

The Steed family of Greenbrier is a living example of how those services connect. During Kailey’s first pregnancy, Sick learned there was a possibility of their child, Henry, developing spina bifida. She referred Kailey to Little Rock for a maternal-fetal medicine assessment. Henry was not positive for the condition.

  A team of health care providers at Conway Regional supported Kailey and Dalton Steed of Greenbrier throughout the birth of their children. Left to right, back row: Dawn Hughes, MD, Lindsey Remow, Christina Brown, Jenny Kelley, Ellen Smith, Rebecca Youngman, Sarah Newton, Adam Harrell, MD, Mallory Pavatt and Courtney Sick, MD. In front: Hagen, Kailey, Henry and Dalton Steed.

A few years later, Sick made a similar referral for their youngest son, Hagen. This time, the service was available locally in Conway, thanks to Dawn Hughes, MD, and her staff at the Conway Regional Maternal Fetal Medicine Center of Arkansas. In addition to spina bifida, Hughes completed testing for other conditions.

“I also had a stomach issue as a baby, so it was precautionary for us to go to Dr. Hughes for our peace of mind, and I only had to take half a day off from work instead of a full day,” Kailey said. She was also appreciative of the understanding staff, who found a place for Henry to sleep during an ultrasound test.

“Before Dr. Hughes started her practice here, patients like Kailey would normally have gone to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and that means extra costs, distance, and going back to Little Rock for their follow-up care,” Sick explained.

“Now we can send them across the street, which allows us to keep more patients and babies here rather than transferring them. It’s much more convenient for families.”

While Hagen tested negative for both conditions, that was only the beginning of the Steed family’s story.

Kailey and Dalton received unexpected news shortly after Hagen was born in early March. Hagen was having trouble breathing, and pediatricians and labor and delivery nurses in the Conway Regional Women’s Center told them he had a condition called meconium aspiration.

“After Hagen was born,” Dr. Sick recalled, “He was breathing fast, was resuscitated and taken into the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery. We kept him there on antibiotics.”

Dalton was concerned. “Three nurses were treating Hagen, and Kailey’s blood pressure dropped. I was looking at the two people I love, and neither was doing well, but we knew we were in good hands.”

Kailey recovered quickly, and they learned that Hagen’s condition was treatable. Still, he would have to stay in the NICU while being treated with supplemental oxygen and antibiotics. This unforeseen stay meant that instead of introducing Hagen to 2-year-old Henry at home, Kailey and Dalton spent the next 12 days in the women’s center to be as close as possible to their newborn.

“It was stressful, but they said time heals this illness,” said Kailey. “So, we got to know the nurses, and every time we wanted to see him, they allowed us into the nursery. They communicated with our doctors, and we never had to ask for an update.”

“It didn’t feel like it was 12 days,” Dalton said. “The overall experience was as good as you could ask for. No parent wants to worry about their little one, but the staff was great, letting us come and go from the nursery and keeping us at peace.”

“In the past, he may have been transferred to Arkansas Children’s Hospital,” explained Sick. “Now, we can keep them here closer to their family, and the family can stay in a room here and not go back and forth to Little Rock.”

Receiving care here significantly eased the family’s burden, especially considering their obligations to Henry at home. The local support system, bolstered by Kailey and Dalton’s mothers, Terri and Robin, played a pivotal role in maintaining the family’s well-being, ensuring Henry’s daily visits to the hospital.

The 12-day stay involved an entire team of healthcare professionals. Kailey praised the care provided by pediatricians Priya Yadav, MD, Steve McNabb, MD, Philip Hopp, MD, and Adam Harrell, MD, who provided their medical expertise during the stay. “Christina Brown, RN, Callie Huffstutler, RN, speech therapist Ellen Smith, and Shanesha Jackson, RN, were great, just to name a few,” she added.

“Everybody was great, and we appreciated all the care,” she said. “If we have another baby, I will choose Conway Regional.”