Nurses who've found their calling in a certain specialty often say they "were born to work" on a particular hospital unit; but few, if any, have lived out that axiom as Cameron Gulley Fox has.
Fox was born on the very unit where she works today. Neat coincidence, right? Well, you've only heard half the tale. Fox has the sole distinction of being the first baby delivered at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth. Today, she works side by side with some of the nurses who were there for her delivery in 1987.
While her colleagues love to talk about stars aligning to bring the first baby back home, the new postpartum nurse kind of shrugs it off.
"I really don't see working here as a coincidence," said Fox, BSN, RN, who began working as a postpartum nurse in June at Texas Health Southwest. "From a young age I wanted to be in the medical field. I was fascinated with medicine and I think it was just a matter of time before I came back. I feel like God blessed me with a lot of things and put me where I want to be."
Though Fox sees her role on the unit as a natural fit, there were some hiccups along the road before this reunion took place.
So let's travel back to the beginning to get a full appreciation of how this unique partnership developed.
Twenty-four years ago, Wynona Gulley was pregnant with her third child. There was a lot of hubbub about the new hospital that had recently opened in Fort Worth and she was anxious to have her baby at the new facility.
"It was the hospital we had planned to go to all along," Gulley said. "At the time, we sort of knew we had a chance of having the first baby there, but we weren't sure if it would happen."
Then on the night of Dec. 7, Gulley began having contractions. She called for an appointment with her ob/gyn, Charles Myers, MD, who examined her and told her to go to the hospital first thing in the morning.
|FIRST BORN: Cameron Gulley Fox, BSN, RN, was born on Dec. 8, 1987.
It seemed the entire staff was ready for her arrival.
"All the nurses were very helpful," Gulley recalled. "I soon found out I was the only one on the floor and I seem to remember three or four nurses were on the floor at the time. They helped me get in bed. I think it was a pretty exciting time for everybody. I also remember that the hospital was being landscaped and someone told me the landscapers were outside and were actually betting on whether I had boy or a girl."
At 4:56 a.m., the moment arrived. Cameron was born and the facility had met its own first milestone.
Hit of the Nurses Station
Little Cameron was instantly the darling of the mother-baby unit, and the Gulleys enjoyed the rewards of being the hospital's first family. Today, new moms feel fortunate when they have a room to themselves after giving birth, so just imagine how Gulley felt when she learned she was the only mom on the entire floor.
"It was right when hospitals started to allow mothers to keep the baby in the hospital room, so Cameron really didn't spend much time in the nursery," Gulley recalled. "It was just a real comfortable, homey-like environment."
However, that didn't mean little Cameron never left mom's side during the two-night stay.
"One night the nurses came in around 9 o'clock and asked if they could take Cameron to their station to 'play with her,'" Gulley said with a laugh. "I know they did it so I could get some rest, but it was just so neat how they really cared for us. Nurses throughout the hospital kept popping in to say hi. We were real celebrities."
And the red carpet treatment continued throughout the hospital stay. The family was treated to a steak and lobster dinner at the facility and administrators presented Cameron with a $100 savings bond, which she eventually used during her first semester in nursing school to purchase books, Gulley said.
When it was time to leave, the hospital staff had another surprise for the family.
|RIGHT AT HOME: Gulley Fox, here with patient Christina Cadden and her daughter Reese Elizabeth Cadden, fits right in on the postpartum unit. photos courtesy Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth
"We lived in Crescent at the time and it was a pretty long drive to the hospital," Gulley recalled. "So on the day of discharge, the hospital sent a limousine to pick up my husband and two sons, drove them to the hospital to pick up Cameron and me, then all of us rode back home in the limo. This happened in the daytime, and I remember my husband saying he was disappointed that none of our neighbors were home to see us arrive in style."
On Her Way
Fox's road back to Texas Health Southwest would be a little less extravagant, but didn't lack excitement along the way. As a child, she was fascinated by the medical field, but wasn't sure which professional course to pursue.
But then in her sophomore year of high school, her sister-in-law asked Fox to witness the birth of her niece. Watching the nurses at work, Fox found her calling.
"I realized then that I would have more time to spend with my patients as a nurse than as a doctor," she said.
She decided to pursue her BSN at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, where she joined her boyfriend Trenton Fox who was a music major. She was 500 miles away from home, but she knew her time away from Fort Worth would be brief.
And she never forgot her connection with Texas Health Southwest.
"I was in nursing school when the hospital celebrated its 20th anniversary," she said. "They called my mom to see if I'd like to come back to be part of the celebration. It was a long way from college, but I really wanted to go. The hospital ended up flying me and my boyfriend home so we could take part in the celebration."
Fox took the opportunity to talk with Mary Robinson, PhD, RN-BC, Texas Health Southwest CNO, and let her know she was interested in becoming a nurse at the facility after graduation.
"I asked her that if there was any way I could get into women's services; that I would love the opportunity to work there," Fox said. "She was very cordial and told me to contact her as soon as I graduated."
Cameron and Trenton would get married soon after and the new nurse would start her career at Northwest Texas Healthcare System in the ICU, while her husband completed courses for his degree. A year later, the couple was ready to move back to the Fort Worth area. Cameron contacted Robinson, who put her in touch with Cathy Johnson, MS, RN, director of women's services.
"There were two things that made me think she would be a good nurse on our unit: her enthusiasm and her experience in nursing in Amarillo," Johnson said. "We had communicated back and forth via e-mail and we were trying to figure out how we could get her on board once there was an opening on the unit."
That opportunity came a few months ago, when Fox was informed of a job on the postpartum unit. After interviewing for the position, she landed the job and began working at Texas Health Southwest in June. Now she's on the same floor as two of the nurses who were there when she was born including Eileen Wilson, BSN, RN. Though Wilson doesn't remember a lot about the hospital's first birth, the fact that she's working with a baby she helped care for back in the day isn't lost on her.
"I think it's wonderful that Cameron is here," she said. "When I first heard she was touring the facility they told me who she was and I was thrilled she was here; she's a great asset to this facility."
On the floor, Fox assesses the postpartum moms, making sure they don't develop complications after delivery and instructs them on breastfeeding and caring for their infant after discharge, Johnson said.
"I think she's fitting in very well," Johnson said. "She's very flexible and interacts well with her co-workers. We've received some compliments from her patients who like her style and caring attitude."
And while Fox isn't quick to share her unique history with her patients, her colleagues have no problem letting new moms know about her special standing on the unit.
"They point it out to new patients all the time," Fox said with a laugh. "If a patient is interested, then I'll tell them the story. I'm just trying to fit in and keep the focus on the patient, but many of the patients I talk to think it's great that I'm working here."
And they're not alone.
"I really love working here," Fox added. "I love helping people and teaching as much as I can. I can go on and on about the hospital and the nurses and patients I've worked with. Helping new moms in their first couple days after birth gives me great satisfaction. I look forward to the day when I run into one of their kids again and can say, 'I remember when you were born.'"
Tom Kerr is a frequent contributor to ADVANCE.