Even as a veteran mom, Joanna Rhodes admits she was nervous when she went to Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg to deliver her third child in October.
“The process varies every time,” she says. “There are still nerves and anxiety.”
Soon, though, the serene environment of the Dr. M.K. Parsi Women’s Center, the warm care from nurses and the reassuring support of Michael Fenech, DO, had Joanna and her husband, Drew, breezing through the six-hour labor process to welcome Savanna Jean to the family October 8. Savanna joins brother Ethan, 9, and sister Zadie, 2.
“It’s so relaxing, considering what you’re there for,” Joanna says of the Women’s Center, which opened in 2012 and offers the latest technology paired with amenities such as flat-screen TVs, recliners and room service.
“It’s like going to a resort,” Drew adds. “Anything you could want in a room is there. And, on top of that, our nurses and staff were always asking, ‘What can we get you?’
They’re very caring.”
A solid game plan
Joanna and Drew enjoyed connecting with Dr. Fenech, a Neodesha native and Pittsburg State University graduate who returned to southeastern Kansas this summer to set up his OB/GYN practice. In particular, Joanna appreciated working with Dr. Fenech on her birth plan, which included getting up to walk during labor.
“As a physician, I’m honored to share in that time of their lives,” Dr. Fenech says. “I want to make sure the experience is the way they pictured and envisioned it, within the constraints of safe medicine. With the Rhodes family, you could tell they had been down that road before, and they had an idea of what they wanted. It’s different with a first-time parent.”
Joanna credits her healthy pregnancy, in part, to a healthy lifestyle she and Drew have established for their family. She has worked as a personal trainer and continued to teach a spin cycle class during the first half of her pregnancy. She also has completed half-marathons and triathlons.
“About 12 years ago, we realized we wanted to feel better and take care of ourselves,” Joanna says. “You don’t necessarily have to work out at the gym to be healthy.
Sometimes, it’s just being active with the kids, going for a bike ride or walking. It’s just doing something – not just sitting inside.”
A registered nurse, Joanna focuses on making the Pittsburg area a healthier place to live as coordinator for Live Well Crawford County, which supports individuals, businesses and organizations that are making healthy changes in the community, such as offering farmers markets and hiking and biking trails.
Drew enjoys weight-lifting and works to offer healthy options at the four grocery stores his family owns and operates in Pittsburg, Wichita and Branson, Mo. His family also has supported Via Christi’s efforts in Pittsburg – he serves on the Mount Carmel Foundation Board of Directors, and his father, Ron, served as president of the hospital’s Board of Directors.
As for little Savanna, she’s sleeping well and enjoying lots of attention from her siblings.
“They won’t stop kissing her, hugging her and loving on her,” Joanna says.
“There’s no lack of love for her,” Drew says.