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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

CentraCare care givers have been working around the clock for more than 20 months to care for you, your families and friends during COVID. We are committed to caring for every Minnesotan who needs us, and nothing will prevent us from doing so – even during these never-seen-before times.

The challenge of providing this level of care is that our hospital beds are often full. ERs in all of our hospitals are packed. And our clinical teams are exhausted. Early in the pandemic, our community stepped up in amazing ways to help us. We ask that you again join us in fighting this pandemic together.

How can you help?

  • Please get your COVID vaccines and booster shots. They are proven safe and effective in reducing COVID illness, keeping people out of the hospital, and preventing death.
  • If your situation is not an emergency, please use other care options, including:
  • If this is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1, or visit the ER.

Together, we can do this. Thank you for your support.

Ken Holmen, MD
President and CEO

Best of Beginnings for Blake Boys

Birthing Services
“On this day, Melanie’s ultrasound revealed decreased blood flow between the placenta and the twins. Dr. Swartout decided the babies needed to be delivered. Melanie asked if they could wait a day, until her mother arrived from Kansas City, and Eric thought about the students back at their home.”

As a church youth director, Eric Blake, and his wife, Melanie, were hosting a weekend retreat for 15 college students at their home in Sauk Rapids. Waving goodbye to the students, the Blakes promised to return shortly after their Friday appointment at the St. Cloud Hospital Perinatology Clinic, which supports women with high-risk pregnancies.

Due to ups and downs during their pregnancy, the Blakes had been coming weekly, then several times per week to the clinic after learning they would have twins.

“With frequent visits, we get to know our patients and can identify potential
complications before they develop,” said Perinatologist Jessica Swartout, MD. “We see a pregnancy through to the end — most often a happy, healthy delivery. But if needed, we help parents get through difficult times with our high level of specialty care.”

On this day, Melanie’s ultrasound revealed decreased blood flow between the placenta and the twins. Dr. Swartout decided the babies needed to be delivered. Melanie asked if they could wait a day, until her mother arrived from Kansas City, and Eric thought about the students back at their home.

“Because we respected and trusted Dr. Swartout, we went ahead with the delivery,” Eric said. “She went above and beyond for us — even checking in on us while on vacation.”

The boys, Levi and Micah, were born seven weeks early. They spent one month in a private room specially designed for twins at the hospital’s new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Melanie appreciated that all birthing services were on the same floor.

“It was hugely helpful,” Melanie said. “After my perinatology visit, I literally walked down the hall for my birth. Then afterwards I walked to the NICU.”

Now at home, the Blakes are adjusting to a new routine.

“Eat, sleep, diaper, repeat,” Eric said. Both Eric and Melanie laugh when reflecting upon their eventual return home after the youth retreat. “The house was left cleaner than it is now,” Eric said.