The Women’s Center Celebrates 25 Years: Ronnie Jo’s Voice

by Lauren Gajda November 6, 2015

As we continue to mark the 25th Year since the opening of The Women’s Center, we hear this week from another of the voices helping us celebrate this anniversary. This voice comes from Ronnie Jo Stringer, ARNP, CNM, a midwife with Gainesville OBGYN. Ronnie Jo is not only someone who provides care to women who deliver their babies at The Women’s Center, she is also a mom who delivered her beautiful baby boy, Ronald, at The Women’s Center about four and a half years ago. When we asked Ronnie Jo the first word that comes to mind when she thinks of The Women’s Center, she said “family.” So it’s no surprise that this is where her family began.

It’s been just over seven years since Ronnie Jo first began working with The Women’s Center. She had just completed graduate school at Georgetown University and couldn’t wait to begin her career in a place that she feels is the best option in town for family-centered care for women.

As a midwife, Ronnie Jo creates special bonds with her patients during their pregnancies. She loves being a part of, what she says, is the most important time in a woman’s life. Ronnie Jo shared different memories with us, but her favorite so far has been being able to deliver the third baby for a special couple and knowing that she was a part of all three of their pregnancies and births.

While that may be her favorite memory as a midwife, her favorite memory of The Women’s Center is of her pregnancy and delivery of her baby boy Ronald here. Her midwife during her pregnancy and delivery was Cyndi Vista, ARNP, CNM, who is still a good friend and colleague of hers to this day.

Ronnie Jo remembers being in a lot of pain on the day she went into labor, but Cyndi was there for her the whole time. It was a long labor, but that’s not what she looks back on. She remembers the faces of the nurses who helped her through labor. She recalls their smiles and their comforting touch. She says words cannot describe how wonderful the care she received was on that day.

When Ronald was born, Ronnie Jo was so thrilled. She says it was incredible to be able to hold him in her arms and know that everything went perfectly – exactly the way she envisioned and hoped it would go. This is what she had been waiting for all these months, and she says it was definitely worth the wait.

Ronnie Jo, husband Chris and son Ronald have so much to be thankful for. Ronald is now four and a half years old and attends preschool. With time going by so quickly, it’s no surprise to her that The Women’s Center is already celebrating 25 years.

During this anniversary year, Ronnie Jo has had the opportunity to look through photos from the past. She loves looking back and seeing all those memories and is excited about the future of The Women’s Center and all it offers to women in our community.

On this 25th Anniversary, Ronnie Jo wants to thank The Women’s Center for welcoming her more than seven years ago and for the guidance, support and amazing memories it has provided so far. She looks forward to continuing to grow and being able to provide women with the birth experiences they desire.

The Women’s Center Celebrates 25 Years: Dr. Cotter’s Voice

by Pamela Rittenhouse October 28, 2015

For 25 years, The Women’s Center of North Florida Regional has focused on delivering the kind of care the women of North Central Florida deserve, which is, of course, the very best care possible! During this anniversary year, we want to celebrate by sharing memories from patients, providers and physicians.

The Women’s Center that Dr. Michael Cotter is so proud to be a part of can be seen through the window over the desk at his OBGYN practice.

The Women’s Center that Dr. Michael Cotter is so proud to be a part of can be seen through the window over the desk at his OBGYN practice.

His Father’s Footsteps

This week’s voice from The Women’s Center comes from Dr. Michael Cotter. Dr. Cotter is an OBGYN who opened his practice on the North Florida Regional campus and began delivering babies at The Women’s Center back in 1994. Dr. Cotter graduated from Emery University, attended Medical School at the University of Miami and did his residency at the University of Florida. There was never a question about where he would open his practice. He’s a native of Gainesville and is the son of a very well-known OBGYN, Dr. Julian Cotter.

“My dad was the world’s nicest guy,” Dr. Michael Cotter says. “He was a great doctor, a great example to follow, and he was always very supportive of me.”

For Dr. Cotter, There’s Family at Home and Family at Work!

Dr. Cotter’s practice, Gainesville OBGYN, is not the only thing that has been growing over the years. So has his family and the wife and children that are his pride and joy.

Dr. Cotter says, like his father, he loves the opportunity to care for women for a long period of time as their lives change and healthcare needs change, too.

“I have patients I’ve been seeing for more than 20 years. The first babies I delivered were twins, and they have turned 21. It means a lot to me to continue to see these patients and know them and help them.”

The level of care available at The Women’s Center is something Dr. Cotter is proud of, and he gives credit to nurses. “The biggest thing that makes The Women’s Center so special is the nursing care. They’re really committed and do an excellent job in working with me and all of the physicians.”

Dr. Michael Cotter says physicians are only one part of excellence in delivering women’s healthcare services. Nurses and midwives who share the philosophy of care are critical, and he points to Certified Nurse Midwife Ronnie Jo Stringer as a perfect example.

Never Sit Still. Grow.

Dr. Cotter also points to the addition of the Maternal Fetal Medicine service line, Neonatal Intensive Care, the growth of Gynecologic Oncology, the presence of breast surgery specialists and Gainesville’s dominant robotic surgery program as examples of advanced care for women delivered at a very high level.

“I’m also pleased with the progression of our care in a holistic fashion where we think about the entirety of women’s healthcare needs, their lifestyle goals and their family members. Our philosophy is to treat the woman instead of her diagnosed healthcare condition.”

Preventing prematurity is a passion for Dr. Cotter, and it’s something he thinks about a lot. “Preventing premature birth is truly the #1 thing we can do for babies. We’re making a lot of headway. Use of progesterone for women who have had a previous spontaneous pre-term delivery at 16 to 20 weeks reduces delivery prior to 30 weeks by 50 percent. This has made an enormous difference, and we want to keep up our focus on preventing prematurity.”

Dr. Cotter’s practice has grown from one physician (him!) to four plus four certified nurse midwives and several other support staff. Growth, Dr. Cotter says, is a good thing!

Other priorities for Dr. Cotter include low birthweight babies and decreasing the rate of cesarean sections. In addition to that, he’s moving fast to manage the growth of his practice. For 16 years, he was in practice pretty much on his own. In the past 5 years, three physicians and four midwives have joined the group.

“We’re growing, but in our practice and the entire Women’s Center, we want to make sure women who come to us for care know they will receive advanced quality care in a setting that is relaxed, comfortable and welcoming. That’s what it’s all about.”

We have so much to celebrate in this 25th Anniversary Year, and we thank Dr. Michael Cotter for his work at The Women’s Center and for sharing his thoughts. There’s more to come. No matter how many years go by, The Women’s Center will be here doing all we can to raise the bar for women for a very simple reason. Health is Beautiful.

The Women’s Center Celebrates 25 Years: Lauren’s Voice

by Lauren Gajda September 4, 2015

For 25 years, The Women’s Center of North Florida Regional has focused on delivering the kind of care the women of North Central Florida deserve, which is, of course, the very best care possible! During this anniversary year, we want to celebrate by sharing memories from physicians, providers and patients. Between now and the end of this year, we will hear from 25 voices of The Women’s Center.

This week’s voice is from me, Lauren Gajda. I have been a patient of The Women’s Center for years, but my best memories are of being pregnant with my daughter and then when she was born on October 16, 2014.

I can’t believe almost a year has gone by since the day of her birth. It seems like it was just yesterday. I’m sure all moms know that feeling. I remember speaking with my friend on the way to work that morning and telling her all of the symptoms I was experiencing. She told me that she’d be surprised if I didn’t have the baby that day and couldn’t believe I was going to work. For me, work was the best place to be. As the Marketing Coordinator of North Florida Regional Medical Center, it was the best case scenario to go into labor while at work since I’d already be at the hospital.

After I sent out a few e-mails that morning, I started timing my contractions. They were pretty much every five minutes, so I finally decided that I should give the doctor a call. By the time I got into the doctor’s office, the contractions started coming every two to three minutes, and I heard the words that I had been waiting for – “You’re in labor.”

Those words came around 8:30am, but Allie Shea didn’t come into the world until 8:04 p.m. that night. It was a long day of labor, but I had the best team helping me through it. My Labor and Delivery nurse was Elizabeth Griseck. She was the absolute best and helped me through hours of pushing. She even stayed well past her shift because she had been with me all day and didn’t want to leave me – mostly because she’s an excellent nurse who cares about her patients, but I’m sure part of the reason was because she wanted to see if my baby was going to be a boy or a girl.

Yes, that’s right. My husband Mark and I were traditional and waited to find out the baby’s gender until the day she was born. Mark always told me that there are very few true surprises left in life, and those are the words that kept us from finding out.

I think out of 100 people, 97 people told me I was having a boy. So we were truly surprised when Mark caught her as she was born and announced, “It’s a girl,” to me. My reply was, “No way!”

Allie had to be delivered with the help of forceps because, after hours of pushing, she just could not get over my pelvic bone. My OBGYN was Dr. Anthony Agrios, and I was so lucky to have him there to deliver her. He did everything to make sure that I did not have to have a C-section.

On the day Allie was born, I felt like the luckiest person alive. I had a healthy baby girl in my arms, a wonderful and loving husband by my side and a team of providers who stuck by us throughout the entire pregnancy, labor and postpartum experience.

And now, we have a beautiful almost-one-year-old who is constantly on the move. Allie has been walking since 7 months old, so our girl-on-the-go has now progressed to running, and it’s hard keeping up with her sometimes. But in this fast-paced life, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Even today, The Women’s Center is a large part of our lives because Allie’s pediatrician, Dr. Mary Grooms, is there, too. Dr. Grooms is an amazing physician who has given us so much great guidance as new parents. Her advice has helped Allie to be the healthy and happy baby she is today, and it has led to Allie sleeping through the night since 6 months. A healthy and happy baby who sleeps through the night leads to a healthy and happy mommy and daddy! Win-win!

So, in this 25th anniversary year, my husband and I want to wish The Women’s Center the very best. Thanks for giving the very best in return.

Lindsey’s Voice: Wishing The Women’s Center A Happy 25th Anniversary

by Lauren Gajda August 12, 2015

25 Voices for 25 Years

For 25 years, The Women’s Center of North Florida Regional has focused on delivering the kind of care the women of North Central Florida deserve, which is, of course, the very best care possible! During this anniversary year, we want to celebrate by sharing memories from physicians, providers and patients. Between now and the end of this year, we will hear from 25 voices of The Women’s Center.

This week’s voice is Lindsey Thomas

Lindsey is a patient at The Women’s Center of North Florida Regional and became a new mom in August 2014 when her daughter Sahara was born. For Lindsey, having her baby anywhere but North Florida Regional was never an option. All the moms she knew told her that The Women’s Center was the place to go because of the quality of physicians, nurses and support staff and the facility itself. And now she knows from firsthand experience that everything she was told was true.

“I really enjoyed my team of doctors, says Lindsey. “Throughout my pregnancy, I met four of the OBs in my practice, but then there was something that was even more helpful. North Florida Women’s Physicians held a ‘meet the team’ event, which gave me a quick glance at all of the physicians in the practice. It is where I originally met the physician who would later deliver my daughter. My primary OB is Dr. Erin Werner, but Dr. Richard Brazzel actually delivered Sahara.”

Lindsey remembers the day she went into labor quite well. She was admitted into the hospital around noon, and 11 hours later, she was finally pushing. Those hours in between gave her some time to get to know the staff.

“I can honestly say I will never forget my labor nurse, Regina,” says Lindsey. “To me, she was not just a nurse but also a mom, a friend, a server and when the doctor was not there, she was the “doctor” and encouraged me to push!”

The scariest time of Lindsey’s entire labor experience came when Sahara was born. Sahara wasn’t breathing, so the nurses quickly began working on her. They ended up calling for the NICU nurses, but after a long five minutes, Sahara was screaming and was a perfectly healthy newborn.

Sahara came into this world quiet and with some concern, but now she is an active almost one-year old who walks, talks and babbles, loves to feed herself, loves to pet her dog and is curious about anything new. Lindsey and her husband, Spencer, are so thankful to have her and the positive memories The Women’s Center provided.

Lindsey wants to wish The Women’s Center a very happy 25th Anniversary. She and Spencer are hoping to get pregnant again soon, and once they do, they will head back to North Florida Regional.