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Births still increasing despite decrease in oil economy

The oil slowdown in western North Dakota has led to a decrease in traffic, lines at grocery stores and jobs. However, one area that hasn't seen a decrease is the amount of women giving birth in Dickinson. Dr. Tom Arnold, an OB/GYN at CHI St. Alex...

Judy Koppinger, RN, checks vitals of baby boy Griffin who was born on Thursday, May 19. Photo by Mary Shown
Judy Koppinger, RN, checks vitals of baby boy Griffin who was born on Thursday, May 19. Photo by Mary Shown

The oil slowdown in western North Dakota has led to a decrease in traffic, lines at grocery stores and jobs.

However, one area that hasn't seen a decrease is the amount of women giving birth in Dickinson.

Dr. Tom Arnold, an OB/GYN at CHI St. Alexius Health Dickinson, said while the area saw a lot of men working in the oilfield come and go, a different demographic stayed.

"A lot of the families that moved here moved their families here, and are at a reproductive age of their life and are having their babies here," Arnold said. "I think Dickinson is a great place to live and I think these people that have come from elsewhere have realized that and decided to make Dickinson their home and are staying here."

After a recording-breaking 76 births in April at St. Alexius Health, the hospital staff anticipates around 80 babies could be born at the hospital in June.

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The hospital has taken steps to ensure the increase in births will be as stress-free as possible for the new parents and employees.

Deb Bolin, director of obstetrics at St. Alexius Health, said they have worked on scheduling to have those interested in working more hours sign up to cover the extra workload from increased births.

She said, in the event that there are multiple labors and recoveries happening in a short time, they have dedicated overflow to the medical and surgery wing located next to labor and delivery. The overflow rooms patients would be still receive the same quality of care as those in the labor and delivery wing, Bolin said.

The current hospital, which opened in late 2014, is better equipped to handle the amount of births as opposed to the old location, Arnold said.

"The new hospital is much more efficient in handling this upswing in number of deliveries," he said. "It would be very challenging in the old hospital. We are fortunate to have the new equipment, the new rooms and a state-of-the-art facility."

The old hospital had three labor and delivery rooms, whereas this hospital has four. There are also seven postpartum rooms for patients.

The new building also gave the obstetrics department new equipment, like a baby warmer that Bolin calls "the cadillac of warmers."

All of the rooms have a tub for women to use to soothe labor pains, which only some of the rooms had in the old hospital.

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DeeAnna Opstedahl, vice president of patient care services, said St. Alexius is prepared for an increase in births, as long as they are scattered throughout the month.

"If they all come in one day, we'll be in trouble," she said with a laugh.

Arnold said he isn't worried about the increase because the employees are prepared to handle it.

Arnold, who is in his 28th year at the hospital, said he isn't worried about the coming baby boom because of the quality of labor-and-delivery nurses and postpartum nurses St. Alexius has.

"I'm not real concerned about getting overly stressed and overwhelmed by this change in numbers because I think our staff is up for it," he said. "They will be challenged, but I think they are up for it and I think when the times comes, they will meet the challenge by putting in more hours, working more days and more on-call shifts than they probably did before. But I know they will come through with flying colors. I have no doubt about that."

Related Topics: HEALTHDICKINSON
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