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Published on January 04, 2018

Baby is first in Rockingham and first at renamed UNC Rockingham Hospital

EDEN — Willow Rose Hairston wasn’t just the first baby born this year in Rockingham County. She was the first baby born at UNC Rockingham Hospital, formerly Morehead Memorial Hospital.

As the New Year countdown ended and fireworks burst across the sky, the Eden hospital closed a chapter in its history — one that spanned nearly 58 years. With the dawning of Jan. 1, Morehead Memorial Hospital became UNC Rockingham Hospital, the 13th hospital affiliated with UNC Health Care.

In Stoneville, seven miles from Eden, Tessa Griffin wasn’t even aware that her hospital was changing its name. She was more focused on whether the baby she was expecting on Jan. 10 might be making an earlier appearance.

By mid-morning, the mother of three was pretty sure that baby No. 4 was indeed on the way. Griffin and the baby’s father, Anthony Hairston, decided it was time to head to the hospital.
Things had been quiet in the Birthing Center on New Year’s Day. Dr. Nigel Buist of Women’s Health Centre had delivered three babies on New Year’s Eve, one shortly before midnight. But it looked as though they were in for a long wait for their New Year’s baby.

That changed when Griffin and Hairston arrived about 11:30 a.m. Things happened quickly, and at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 1, Willow Rose was born in the Birthing Center. She’ll be the first to have the new facility listed on her birth certificate.

Willow Rose’s delivery was made more special because Griffin was able to have her favorite nurse, Angela Anthony, by her side during labor.

Griffin says she and Anthony were childhood best friends. Now Anthony is the director of the Birthing Center at UNC Rockingham Hospital.

Griffin was 4 when she met Anthony. They lived only a few miles apart but in different states — one on each side of the North Carolina-Virginia state line. Griffin grew up in Stoneville and Anthony in Virginia. The two met at Christ United Methodist Church in Stoneville.

For most of their childhood, they were inseparable. Though they took different paths and only see each other infrequently now, they have a bond.

Anthony wasn’t scheduled to work on New Year’s Day, but she came in to catch up on some paperwork.

The timing was perfect.

Anthony was able to attend to her friend during labor and delivery, be one of the first to greet Willow Rose and witness a true celebration of how both babies and healthcare will continue to be delivered in Rockingham County.

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