Of the Baker City Herald

Aiden Michael Wayne Rush has an appropriate surname.

His rush into the world Saturday morning earned him a place no one else can claim at St. Elizabeth Health Care's new Birth Center. He's the first baby to be born at the $1.3 million facility.

And he wasn't even slated to make his debut in Baker City.

andquot;We were supposed to go to (Grande Ronde Hospital in) La Grande,andquot; said Rush's mother, Jamie Dougherty, andquot;but my grandmother was afraid we weren't going to make it.andquot;

andquot;I'm glad we came here,andquot; added the baby's father, Josh Rush. andquot;We didn't want to go to La Grande and chance it.andquot;

On Friday night, Dougherty instead took the quicker route from her home in Haines to the new Birth Center. More than seven hours of labor later at 5:55 a.m. Saturday, on both the birthday of Leo Adler and the first day of summer (and for Dougherty and the rest of the northern hemisphere, the longest day of the year) Aiden checked in at 6 pounds, 14 ounces and 19 1/2 inches long.

Dr. Diane Nowak, who delivered the Birth Center's first tiny client, said working in one of the hospital's four new birthing suites with its state-of-the-art lighting and jet-nozzle-equipped tubs was a pleasure for everyone involved.

andquot;It's nice to be able to see what you're doing,andquot; she joked, referencing the poor lighting in the former facilities. andquot;There's plenty of room for everybody. Josh and Grandma (Cleta Sanders of Baker City) felt right at home. And it was nice to get Dave involved.andquot;

Dave in this case is Dave Loper, a nurse anesthetist who administered intrathecal pain management for both the labor and delivery. Once Loper had done his job, Dougherty was able to sleep a couple hours before her final work began.

Josh Rush also played a role in Dougherty's pain management plan, Loper said.

andquot;He provided good support all the way through labor,andquot; Loper said.

andquot;It was the most amazing thing I've ever experienced,andquot; Rush said.

Just getting the suite ready proved a fairly monumental task. Once the new center had passed its final building inspection Friday afternoon, obstetric nurse Robin Brethwaite, who was on duty that evening, decided to stock one suite full of the necessary birthing equipment despite the fact that nobody was scheduled to check into the facility that day.

It's a good thing she did, said fellow nurse Stacy Stubblefield, because the phone call from the emergency room came in just after Brethwaite had finished reallocating all the tools necessary to deliver a baby and was about to go home for the evening.

andquot;She thought she'd get a room ready, just in case,andquot; Stubblefield said. andquot;We're all glad she did.andquot;

For her trouble, Brethwaite got the privilege of sticking around and helping to deliver the center's inaugural baby.

And for his trouble, little Aiden was promptly showered with two large baskets full of baby gifts, compliments of local merchants. Included were a stuffed elephant, a baby photo album, diaper bag, and a teddy bear for the baby.

And, for the proud parents, gift certificates, flowers and other gifts to mark the Birth Center's first of many happy events.