Lonesome Pine Hospital Recognized For Efforts To Include Paternal Information On Birth Certificates

Co-workers at Lonesome Pine Hospital focus on delivering healthy babies as safely as possible, but they are just as committed to the long-term well-being of each child.

These talented caregivers go a step further to ensure babies born at Lonesome Pine have access to vital information that will assist them throughout their lives. Staff members who work in the labor and delivery unit take care to ensure the father of every baby born at the hospital is listed on the birth certificate.

"It may seem insignificant, but having this information on their birth certificate will be important to these children when they are older," said Della Price, The Birthing Inn's unit manager. "Every child deserves to know who his or her father is."

For their efforts, Lonesome Pine's co-workers have been recognized by the Virginia Department of Social Services. The agency recently honored 10 hospitals for their exceptional performance with the Virginia Paternity Establishment Program. Lonesome Pine ranked No. 2 on the list with 80.8 percent of babies born at the hospital having both parents listed on the birth certificate.

This is the second time in recent years Lonesome Pine has received this recognition. In 2010, the hospital also ranked second in the state for the percentage of birth certificates submitted that included both parents.

Price said Birthing Inn staff members begin counseling pregnant women during prenatal childbirth and parenting education classes about the importance of establishing paternity. Women also receive information when they come to the hospital to give birth - and again when they complete the birth certificate application after the baby is born.

Virginia Department of Social Services statistics show almost half of babies in the commonwealth are born to unwed parents. Commonwealth law requires all birthing facilities to provide unwed parents the option to voluntarily acknowledge paternity prior to discharge from the hospital.

Establishing paternity of a child does more than develop a family connection. The child can benefit financially as well.

Paternity establishment could help the child receive a share of Social Security, disability or veteran's benefits should the father die or become disabled. The child also might be eligible for an inheritance and have rights to medical or insurance benefits.

Even so, establishing paternity on a birth certificate is voluntary, and some women opt not to add his name, Price said.

Greg Neal, president of Wellmont Health System's community hospital division, which includes Lonesome Pine, said the commonwealth's recognition of Lonesome Pine reflects the dedication of The Birthing Inn's caregivers.

"This ranking highlights our team's passion for paying attention to more than just our patients' physical needs," Neal said. "By going the extra mile to establish paternity for every child born at Lonesome Pine, our staff at The Birthing Inn are helping these babies establish the connections that will make their lives more fulfilling. This is a perfect example of Wellmont's Healing Environment philosophy empowering patients - sometimes from the moment they enter the world."

Lonesome Pine's staff will be recognized at an awards ceremony on Friday, March 29.