News>Last baby born at Wilford Hall, labor and delivery moves to BAMC
Army Staff Sgt. Mario Perez and his wife Dina found out their new infant, Laurel Perez, was the last baby to be born at Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, Aug. 28, 2011. The Hauth Birthing Center is relocating to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to a state-of-the-art facility. The move will establish an integrated medical team of Air Force and Army staff. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett)
Chief Master Sgt. Richard Robinson (far left) and Maj. Gen. Byron Hepburn (center left) visit Dina Perez, Army Staff Sgt. Mario Perez and their baby, Laurel Perez, who made history Aug. 28, 2011, at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Laurel was the last baby born at Wilford Hall Medical Center’s Hauth Birthing Center, which closed Aug. 29. Her father is a nuclear medicine instructor for the Medical Education and Training Campus at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Hepburn is the 59th Medical Wing commander and Robinson is the 59th MDW command chief. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett)
Laurel Perez, the newest daughter of Army Staff Sgt. Mario Perez and his wife Dina, was the last baby born at Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, Aug. 28, 2011 at 12:59 a.m. The Hauth Birthing Center staff presented baby Laurel a special "Last Baby Born" shirt. The birthing center closed Aug. 29 as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Law to relocate all inpatient services to Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. More than 103,482 babies have been born at Wilford Hall in its 60-year history of labor and delivery. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett)
9/6/2011 - LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Baby Laurel Perez made history on Aug. 28.
She was the last baby born at Wilford Hall Medical Center and is now an important part of the 60-year history of labor and delivery here.
The Hauth Birthing Center, located on the fifth floor of the nine-story hospital, closed Aug. 29 and will re-open at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Sept. 6 in a new state-of-the-art birthing center. The move is part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Law and will provide military beneficiaries superior prenatal care, labor and delivery for years to come, officials said.
Born to Dina Perez and Army Staff Sgt. Mario Perez, baby Laurel arrived at 12:59 a.m. weighing 5 pounds, 6 ounces and measuring 19 inches long. Both mom and baby are doing well, officials said.
"I never expected this," Dina Perez said. "I know there were other women who were going to deliver at Wilford Hall, but I never thought I'd be the last one."
A proud father of two girls, Sergeant Perez said he was shocked and honored when they told him they were the last couple to have a baby delivered at Wilford Hall.
The Perez family also has an older daughter, 9-year-old Rosalie, who was born at Darnell Army Community Hospital at Fort Hood, Texas.
"The Wilford Hall staff was awesome; we couldn't have asked for more," said Perez, who works as a nuclear medicine instructor at the Medical Education and Training Campus at Fort Sam Houston. "It's exciting to know they will continue their high quality care for other military families at Fort Sam."
The staff of Air Force nurses, doctors and medical technicians at Wilford Hall hustled about in the early morning hours Aug. 29. The infant was delivered by doctors Capt. Damien Packett and Capt. Lisa Nicholson. Clinical nurse Capt. Joy Arce and medical technicians Senior Airman Ebony Rodriguez and Airman First Class Lorena Diaz assisted.
"We have a great professional team of active duty and civilians, and they will continue that level of excellent, high quality and patient-centered care with our Army colleagues as they transition to Fort Sam Houston," said Maj. Gen. Byron Hepburn, the commander of the 59th Medical Wing.
The Army couple got a special surprise when Hepburn and Chief Master Sgt. Richard Robinson, the 59th MDW command chief, presented them with their military coins. The senior leaders said they were excited to share the joy of such a historic event.
"This is a tremendous accomplishment on multiple levels, especially for the Perez family," Hepburn said. "It's a joy for the Perez family, and it's a joy and honor for our staff to deliver this beautiful little girl."
It's uncertain what birth number baby Laurel represents. However, Matt Scales, the historian for the 59th MDW, said that throughout its 60-year history of labor and delivery, more than 103,482 babies have been born here. The first labor and delivery unit was formally activated in 1951 under the 3700th Medical Group, located in the same general area as the current Wilford Hall building.
"Technically, the first baby was born here in 1943 before labor and delivery stood up, but our statistics do not go back that far," Scales said.
William Edward Kellett Jr. was born at Station Hospital (now known as Wilford Hall) at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center (now known as Lackland AFB) on Nov. 9, 1943, to Staff Sgt. William Kellett and his wife Mary Ellen. Kellett was a member of the 881st Preflight Training Squadron with U.S. Army Air Forces. Delivered by Capt. William F. Geittman, baby Kellett weighed in at 7 pounds, 9 ounces.
"Time has brought many changes," said Kimberly Hatfield, the civilian supervisor at Hauth Birthing Center, who started out at Wilford Hall in 1993 as a lieutenant in the Nurse Transition Program. "Wilford Hall has always been on the cutting edge of services provided to patients.
"We now see patients who, in the past, would have been unable to get pregnant," Hatfield said. "The level of nursing and medical care in military health facilities continues to grow and we are very excited about the future as we transition to our new state-of-the art birthing center across town."
11/5/2011 6:03:39 PM ET My sister and I are very proud to be a part of the history of 103,482 babies born over at Wilford Hall myself in 1981 and sister 1984 respectfully. The hospital has gave me good memories.
Nina Fletes Petty Officer 3rd Class US Navy, Everett WA
10/12/2011 11:03:35 PM ET I was stationed at Wilford Hall USAF medical Center after tech school from June 1970 to June 1971. I had the greatest supervisor in the Air Force TSgt. Quentin Vaughn and attribute my medical career to his training and instruction. I felt like I was the luckest medic in the Air Force and had many great assignments.
Ed Gardner TSgt USAF Ret, Oakland TN
9/7/2011 9:12:59 AM ET The last baby born at Big Willie. Assigned as a medic to Wilford Hall after tech school in January 1978 and working there through 1982 and then '85-'89 was an amazing learning opportunity. I arrived during construction of the fourth wing of the medical center and also watched the clinic be built. That medical center was such a dynamic organization back in the day. Change happens, but sad to know that so many medics, nurses and physicians will never again get to experience Wilford Hall at its peak.