Imagine what every mother and father wish they could say at one of life’s golden moments. That’s what Kelsey Horne said on the Union County Moms Facebook page after she and her husband, Brandon, welcomed their firstborn, Everley Mae Horne, into the world at 7:36 p.m. on Aug. 1.

“I gave birth Tuesday at Novant Matthews Medical Center and we couldn’t have asked for better nurses, luckily my midwife was on shift when my daughter was born which was a plus,” Kelsey wrote. “However, the other midwives that checked on us, the doctor on shift, the lactation consultants, the ladies from nutrition, etc.

“Every person who came into our room to check on us, take care of my husband and I and our daughter were all amazing. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience during such an important time and memorable time.”

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It takes a highly trained team to bring a baby into the world. And the Hornes found that team at Novant Health Matthews Medical Center. And the surprise news of Kelsey’s blood disorder? It was nothing the team of doctors, midwives, nurses and others couldn’t handle at a community hospital that offers big-city care.

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Novant Health Matthews Medical Center is among just 17 North Carolina hospitals to receive the coveted U.S. News and World Report High-Performing Hospitals designation for maternity care.

Navigating a rare disorder

Kelsey Horne maternity room
Mom Kelsey Horne, baby Everley and nurse Raven Evon.

First things first: Everley and her parents are doing great.

She’s a healthy, happy, outgoing baby, Kelsey says. That explains the big grin she gave to the Healthy Headlines scribe when he visited their home in Monroe recently. Now that her mom has returned to work as an assistant principal at Kensington Elementary School in nearby Waxhaw, Everley will divide her weekdays between day care and home care with Kelsey’s mother, Jan. Grandma has already been assigned a pet name for when Everley is old enough to say “Gigi, I love you.”

Dr. David Miller

Near the start of what turned out to be a healthy pregnancy and delivery, bloodwork revealed that Kelsey’s blood platelet count was low. Platelets help blood clot. The condition, which offers few signs or symptoms, is called thrombocytopenia, a rare disorder that can be life-threatening. Kelsey was referred to Dr. David Miller with Novant Health Cancer Institute - Elizabeth and a plan of care was established. Thrombocytopenia is not a form of cancer, but Miller is a hematologist, a doctor who treats blood disorders.

Jaime Thompson

Certified nurse-midwife Jaime Thompson, who helped care for Kelsey and delivered Everley, said the condition posed no risk to the baby. The risk to Kelsey from bleeding was not considered high, Thompson said. The issue was whether she could receive an epidural for pain during delivery.

Kelsey and Brandon’s journey had begun.

Midwives offer a personal connection

Kelsey took a regimen of vitamins to build up her platelets. Her blood count was monitored closely. During regular checkups at Novant Health’s Carmel OB/GYN office in Monroe, Thompson made sure Kelsey was on track for a healthy delivery. Their relationship went beyond medicine, foreshadowing the depth of care (and warmth) she received throughout her journey.

“She was amazing,” Kelsey said. “She let me talk through the different delivery options.

Thompson said that midwives emphasize the sort of personal connection she forged with Kelsey.

“She was amazing,” Thompson said. “She’s friendly. She’s smart. She’s easy to talk to.” (Find a Novant Health midwife here.)

Maternity at Novant Health Matthews Medical Center

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Reflecting Novant Health’s focus on providing a range of quality, regional care, Matthews Medical Center has become a busy maternity center, delivering 2,607 babies in 2022. Maternity services include a 34-bed unit that cares for labor, delivery, recovery, postpartum, antenatal (prenatal) and post-op hysterectomy patients.

There is also an eight-bed neonatal intensive care nursery. Care comes with convenience, saving families in and around Monroe, Mint Hill and surrounding areas from having to drive longer distances, often late at night or whenever mama-to-be says those magic words, “It’s time.”

Kelsey, Brandon and the other parents she serves is why midwife Thompson moved from Overland Park, Kansas, to join Novant Health in 2022. She embraces the opportunity not just to deliver babies – 100 a year at Matthews Medical Center – but to become part of the “family.” To answer questions. Calm concerns. Share in the joy.

“There’s a friendship that forms,” Thompson said. “It’s almost sad for us when they deliver. We’ll say, ‘See you back in a year or whenever you have your next baby.’”

And so it went when it came time for Thompson to bring Everley into the world – vaginally, with an epidural. Kelsey’s platelet count was monitored. Nurses Madeline Smink and Kara King cared for Kelsey throughout the day at Matthew Medical Center, then stayed beyond their shift until Everley arrived. “They were angels sent from heaven,” Kelsey said. Night nurse Raven Evon was an angel as well, Kelsey said, going out of her way to check on her after the delivery. “I reached out to her on Facebook,” Kelsey said. “We’re friends now.”

Dr. Meredith Davitte

As Kelsey wrote in her Facebook post, everyone helped make their hospital stay the two most joyful days of their lives. Now, Kelsey said, Everley’s pediatrician, Dr. Meredith Davitte at Novant Health Matthews Children’s Clinic, has taken the baton.

“She’s amazing,” Kelsey said. “She always answers any of my questions, gives me amazing recommendations and makes me feel so comfortable about things pertaining to Everley. She always asks about me and how I’m doing.”

A postscript from Kelsey: “Another thanks to Novant Health Matthews. I had to have emergency gall bladder surgery. Again, I couldn’t have asked for better nurses, doctors, anesthesiologists, etc.”