The Noreen Stonor Drexel Birthing Center

Eileen Ryan, RN

For almost 30 years, Eileen Ryan has been caring for mothers and babies at Newport Hospital. As an obstetrics nurse with the Noreen Stonor Drexel Birthing Center, she has attended countless deliveries, coaching and reassuring women through the long, hard hours of labor, tending to them after delivery, teaching the basics of newborn care. She has instructed and encouraged new mothers through breastfeeding difficulties, and helped them connect and coach each other in breastfeeding support groups. She has been on hand for many families’ most joyous moments, and some of their most painful moments as well, when a pregnancy does not go as planned.

Over those decades, Newport Hospital has become more than a workplace. It’s where Eileen’s own three children were born, two daughters and a son. It’s where she has watched her oldest daughter, Kerry Ryan, begin her own nursing career, as an RN in the float pool. It’s where she has worked alongside and commiserated with and celebrated and supported some of her closest friends, who are also her colleagues. “I have really enjoyed being part of this group of women,” she says. “Many of us have been here for decades, our kids have grown up together, we work so well together.”

That sense of teamwork extends to the physicians who deliver at the birthing center as well. “We have a unique collaboration with our doctors,” she says. “In the process of delivering a baby, you have several hours of communication back and forth, and they have to trust our experience and assessment skills. It keeps you at the top of your game.”

Ryan has been an extraordinary resource for the hospital and the larger community of women on Aquidneck Island as well. She came to Newport in 1986, with six years of experience as a pediatric nurse at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan. She has national certification in inpatient obstetrics; is a clinical nurse IV on the clinical ladder, and is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, teaching the hospital’s breast feeding class, providing individual lactation consultations and taking her turn facilitating the popular weekly breastfeeding support group.

“This is a community hospital, but they encourage you to strive for excellence, and that’s great,” she says. “It says something about the climate here, that nurses are encouraged to better themselves, to maintain that certification, to continue to educate themselves.”

For her, the most meaningful part of the job may be when she is able to see and feel the impact she has on patients’ lives. “We have women who may have just moved here, and don’t have any friends or support in the community, and the breastfeeding support group is a real lifesaver for them,” she notes. “I’ve also functioned as a bereavement counselor, and it’s tough, but patients in that predicament are so appreciative of your help, because they are just so lost.”

“I live on Aquidneck Island, and when I’m out, I’ll often run into someone who will stop me to say, ‘You were with me when I had my baby, it was wonderful’. That’s very meaningful to me. It’s the best aspect of the job—you know that you were a part of this very special time in their life.”

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