- Associated Press - Saturday, July 2, 2016

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A couple from Honduras traveled 1,400 miles to Hendersonville to welcome their first child in to the world.

Ten years ago, Hendersonville Medical Center’s Dr. Brett Branson, an OB/GYN, and nurse Sheila Kelly began traveling to Honduras for medical mission trips. While there, the pair met Josué Fiallos, who helped them get their organization incorporated abroad.

When Fiallos and his wife, Catherine Aguilar, learned they were expecting their first child, they decided their baby would be born in the United States. After researching hospitals in New York and Florida, they chose Hendersonville Medical due to their long-standing relationship with Branson and Kelly and the hospital’s newly opened Birth Center.

Baby Ema Paulina Banegas Aguilar was born on at 2:18 a.m. June 14. She weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces and was 19 inches long.

“I trusted Shelia and Dr. Branson and took their word on their new birth center,” Fiallos said in a news release. “…I did a lot of research on hospitals in New York and Florida, but the most important reason I chose TriStar Hendersonville was the level of care I knew Dr. Branson and Shelia would provide.”

Opened in January, $18.5 million, 22,000-square-foot center provides a Level II-B neonatal intensive care unit for babies born at 32 weeks gestation or later in addition to its slate of obstetrics services.

Fiallos and Aguilar have witnessed the Sumner health care providers at work in Honduras and in the process of raising funds to build a hospital there.

“Josué, Catherine and Josue’s family play a huge role in making it possible for the team to work in Honduras,” Dr. Branson said in the release. “We could not do what we do without their help and support.”

“We try to provide any relief that we can,” Kelly added. “Access to health care in Honduras is a huge deal. And then if you even have access, it does not mean you can afford it. We take it for granted in America that we can drive to the store and buy vitamins or medication. You do not have that kind of access in Honduras.”

An emergency medicine physician in Honduras, Aguilar was astounded to see the difference in health care available in America compared to her native country.

“We don’t have birth suites like this,” said Aguilar. “We only have one type of room in our hospital for all of our patients, regardless of condition.”

The hospital Aguilar works in is considered one of the best in Honduras. One notable difference, she said, is the use of technology in the health care process. The amount of patient education and explanation of procedures surrounding her care was impressive and comforting, Aguilar said.

“I had so many questions and everyone has been so helpful because they have always had answers for me. When I go back to Honduras, this is going to change the way I provide care,” Aguilar said in the release.”

Dr. Branson and Kelly are already working with the family to plan a mission trip for January 2017.

“I feel truly humbled and honored that Josué and Catherine chose the Birth Center at TriStar Hendersonville to have their first child,” said Dr. Branson. “It has indeed been a joy to be able to participate in the birth of Ema.”

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Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com

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