Bevy of babies ushers in Legacy-Kaiser deal

Eight born on first day of contract, one arrives several hours early

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter



Baby Juniper just couldn’t wait.

Juniper Kate Webster was the first Kaiser Permanente baby born at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center under a new contract between the two organizations. Technically, she was born before the seven-year contract even went into effect but her family is still covered.

“Proving once again that babies arrive on their own schedule,” said Rhonda Linn, Legacy Family Birth Center manager, in a news release.

Juniper was born at 8 p.m. Monday — four hours before the new contract between Kaiser and Legacy went into effect Tuesday.

In January, Kaiser announced it was switching from using PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center as its health-plan hospital in Clark County to Legacy Salmon Creek. The new deal means about 100,000 Clark County residents who receive health insurance through Kaiser may find themselves using Legacy Salmon Creek for some hospital services.

Legacy officials expect the Family Birth Center will be among departments experiencing the biggest impact from the new contract. They expect to deliver an additional 800 babies, bringing the annual total to about 3,000.

“(Tuesday) just happened to be a very busy day,” said Brian Willoughby, Legacy Salmon Creek spokesman.

In the first 24 hours of the contract, Family Birth Center staff delivered eight babies. Another three women were in labor Tuesday, but didn’t deliver before midnight.

That first-day tally doesn’t include Juniper, the first child of Vancouver residents Nichole Peppers and Nick Webster. Juniper weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces and was 19.5 inches long at birth. She arrived four days before Nichole’s due date.

Legacy’s emergency department is also expected to see an increased patient load as a result of the new contract. Legacy expects to treat an additional 8,000 people each year in its emergency department, which now sees about 50,000 people in a year.

During the first 24 hours of the new contract, 38 Kaiser members visited the hospital’s emergency department. Twelve of those patients were admitted to the hospital, Willoughby said.

As a result of the contract, Legacy launched a $7 million hospital renovation to accommodate additional patients. That work is nearly complete.