Baby boom arrives at Covenant HealthCare

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SAGINAW (WJRT) - (08/22/19) - A Mid-Michigan hospital is celebrating quite the baby boom.

But the bundles of joy aren't in the nursery just yet.

"One by one, nursing assistants and registered nurses were coming into my office and saying, 'Nancy, can I speak to you'," explained Nancy Riffel, the nurse manager on Covenant HealthCare's Medical Pulmonary unit.

In just a matter of months the blessings multiplied on 5 East.

"We counted very time. So we're like, 'oh that's five. Oh, that's six'," said Kellsie Gakstetter, a certified nursing assistant.

"Before I knew it we were up to ten of 53 of our employees that were expecting a baby," Riffel said.

The registered nurses and certified nursing assistants spend a lot of time together, so it's only fitting some of them experienced their first symptoms here at work.

"I went home sick one day and she said, 'are you pregnant?' I said, 'no Nancy I'm not, I'm having a rough day'," Gakstetter said. "And I came back and I had to go talk to her, so yeah."

Registered Nurse Claire Huntoon was one of the last to find out. She had been told it'd be tough to start a family.

But one of the other pregnant nurses was suspicious. "She said, 'Claire, you're probably pregnant, you should probably take a pregnancy test'. And I was like, 'there's no way I'm pregnant. There's absolutely no way'," Huntoon said.

A pregnancy test a few weeks later confirmed she was expecting her first child. Huntoon and her husband will find out whether the baby is a boy or girl in September. She's due in February.

And yes, they have cravings.

Many are unique, but there's one food group they all seem to love.

"We're always like, 'are you ready for breakfast yet," Gakstatter said.

Joking aside, nursing is tough work. And there's no such thing as 'taking it easy' when it's your job to care for patients who may have breathing or other medical conditions.

The team was quick to point out Gakstatter is working overtime.

Not only is she on her feet on 5 East, she's set to graduate from nursing school in December. Plus, her little boy will be here in November.

"It'll be a busy semester but I have all these wonderful ladies to get me through it," Gakstatter said.

Huntoon got her start in nursing on this floor. And while she recently transferred to another unit, the ladies of 5 East hold a special place in her heart. "All these women were my mentors as a nurse, so it's really cool to work with people who can be my role model as a mom too," she said.

Samantha LaPan will have her baby first. The mom of two will have her third child on Sunday.

Chantal Kramer, Justine Braeutigam, Whitney Sherwood and the four others who weren't able to be at work for this story have due dates reaching into February.

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