CLARION, Iowa — It's an understatement to say the pandemic hasn't been easy on the Iowa health care system.
That's partly why the staff at a hospital in Clarion are hanging tight to some good news: they've delivered more than 500 babies in the year 2020.
The 500th baby, Elena Leal, was born to Martha and Jose Leal on December 27 at 5:13 a.m.
The Maternity Center at Iowa Specialty Hospitals and Clinics is located at its Clarion campus. The facility has grown tremendously over the past 25 years.
The leader of the OB department, Jennifer Mewes, said each year they hope to deliver more babies than the year before. In 2019, they delivered 427, so she says they're very proud of how much they increased.
"Being a 25-bed critical access hospital in rural Iowa, the fact that we delivered 500 babies is a feat [in] itself," said Mewes. "Most rural facilities in Iowa are closing their obstetrical units or downsizing just due to financial reasons or not having the amount of personnel, providers, or staff that can provide that service."
There were 97 births in 1995 and although the numbers have wavered just a bit year over year, the hospital has seen a consistent uptick in numbers over the last eight years, according to a press release, which included the photo above.
Dr. Dan Gabrielson, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist, attributes the steady growth to a "personal touch" and high-quality care.
"It just kind of exploded," said Gabrielson. "I'm even a little surprised with getting over 500 deliveries with a town of three thousand people. The whole county only has 13,000 people, and many people in northern Iowa and throughout this region are making it the place to deliver their babies."