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Elizabeth Gillespie Testimonial

After a storm, it’s only natural to look for a rainbow. Having experienced the heartbreak of losing their second baby, Sutton, in the hospital shortly after his birth in 2017, Elizabeth and Mark Gillespie were determined to have a different outcome for future pregnancies.

“So, when we were considering our third pregnancy, we did our research,” Elizabeth says. “Everyone we talked to, hands down, recommended Washington Regional and HerHealth Clinic.”

After meeting with Dr. Kristin Markell, an OB/GYN at HerHealth Clinic, and learning more about options and services at Washington Regional’s Women and Infants Center, the Gillespies were encouraged. Elizabeth says, “Because of the experience we had in losing a newborn, we knew how important choosing not only an OB, but also a hospital, is. Having the Women and Infants Center connected to the hospital — with immediate access to all the medical services a mom and baby might need — gave us comfort.”

The Gillespies were delighted when Elizabeth became pregnant with their third baby, although — as a high-risk pregnancy — it was tense. “We were stressed to the max,” Elizabeth says. “I developed preeclampsia. The baby and I needed further testing. Mark and I had questions nearly 24/7. And through it all, Dr. Markell and the entire HerHealth team provided the answers.”

Together with Dr. Markell, the Gillespies created a birth plan that considered their concerns and fears. “We developed an action plan for the what-ifs. I wanted to plan for whatever came about, because I knew the outcome that could happen,” Elizabeth says.

Dr. Markell arranged for the Gillespies to meet with Dr. Marla Lightburn, Medical Director of Washington Regional’s Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “As soon as I met Dr. Lightburn, I breathed a sigh of relief,” Elizabeth says. “She walked me through what would happen if the baby needed to be in the NICU. She explained that there are six board-certified neonatologists on staff and how the NICU provides the highest level of care in Northwest Arkansas. There’s even a helipad on the roof if a baby needs to go to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.”

To everyone’s joy, baby Rowan was born healthy. “He ended up not needing the NICU, but Dr. Lightburn came to see us, anyway, to make sure our family was OK,” Elizabeth says. “I’m not sure how many doctors do that, but I think that goes above and beyond.”

When Dr. Lightburn asked if the Gillespies would like any tests performed for Rowan, the family realized there had been a dark cloud lurking over their joy. Unspoken was the fear that Rowan might develop the same rare infection that had overwhelmed Sutton’s organs, including his heart. “So, we asked for an echocardiogram just to make sure the baby’s heart was OK. That gave me the comfort and confidence I needed to go home with the baby,” Elizabeth says.

“Dr. Lightburn met a need that I didn’t even know I had.”

Today Rowan is a robust 1-year-old who adores his big brother, Gray, 4 ½. The Gillespies say the teamwork they observed at Washington Regional led to a happier outcome for their family.

“Everyone at Washington Regional worked together to give me a sense of control, and that’s what made this birth experience so spectacular,” Elizabeth says. “What could have been a very difficult situation ended up with us having a great rainbow baby who is healthy and happy.”