Making Extraordinary the Norm

Care providers at Community Medical Centers didn’t do anything out of the ordinary for Maria Rodriguez – she just felt like she was getting special treatment during her high-risk pregnancy.

That’s the idea, making extraordinary ordinary.

And it’s what impressed Rodriguez about her four-week stay in the high-risk antepartum unit at Community Regional Medical Center.

“This is the best hotel I’ve ever stayed at,” Rodriguez said, citing the private showers and bathrooms, a selection of DVD movies and the way one of her favorite nurses went down to the cafeteria every night about 8:30 to get her a smoothie.

Rodriguez, 25, was due April 23 with her fourth child – a girl she and husband Robert named Esmeralda. But little Esmeralda was born about a month premature on March 28.

Her complications started when Rodriguez experienced vaginal bleeding and found out going home could increase the risk that her placenta could detach from her uterine wall prematurely, putting the mother at risk of losing too much blood and the baby of not getting enough oxygen.

Rodriguez said she expected to give birth earlier than the due date, and that the medical staff was extracting fluid from her uterus to determine when the baby’s lungs were mature.

She eventually had a C-section, and Esmeralda was sent to the nursery at 7 pounds, 13 ounces.

“When I went in I got all the care I needed, so she was healthy,” Rodriguez said. “I’m feeling good now.”

Rodriguez gives a lot of credit to her nurses in the high-risk antepartum unit for Esmeralda’s health. When she first arrived, she dreaded a long hospital stay away from her family, but her worries were eased by a friendly and accommodating staff.

“None of my nurses have ever lost their patience. What do you guys take, happy pills?” she said jokingly.

From physicians to the housekeeper, the staff made such an impact on Rodriguez that she sat on her bed with pen and paper, jotting down the names of 36 employees she wanted to thank. And that was before her baby was even born.

“I’m asleep, they come in here and put a warmer blanket on me,” Rodriguez said. “It’s like my mommy taking care of me.”

That’s just something to be expected, said registered nurse Jennifer Vasquez, who worked closely with Rodriguez during her stay.

“We all try to strive to give a high quality of care for all the patients who are here, regardless of their situation, who they are or why they’re here,” Vasquez said.

“We tend to bond with the ones who stay with us for quite a while.”

The high-risk antepartum unit was recently recognized internally for its steadily rising scores on patient satisfaction surveys, as Community works to reach 100% patient, employee and physician satisfaction on various care, communication, courtesy, quality control and service indicators.

There was a 30% increase in patient satisfaction between August and December.

Dora Gould, registered nurse and clinical coordinator, said the unit practices scripting procedures to explain to patients what is happening down to details such as why a nurse is closing the curtains. The staff, Gould said, tries to offer patients as many choices as possible so they don’t feel a loss of control.

“This is the unit where we’re trying to keep people pregnant,” Gould said. “We have patients a long time so we really get to know them, and we’re like family by the time they deliver their babies.”

This story was reported by Eddie Hughes. He can be reached at