When the first baby born at Ripon Medical Center arrives in just a few weeks, it’s hard to say who will be more excited: the expectant parents — or hospital staff.

Though the parents have waited nearly nine months now for their bundle of joy, Ripon Medical Center’s (RMC) gestation has been a bit longer.

Say, about 11 years.

And the doctors, nurses, other assorted staff and even volunteers are ready to put that wait behind them.

“In 2002, when that service was discontinued, it was thought to be temporary,” said Tami Moffat-Keenlance, director of inpatient and emergency services, of what happened when RMC’s obstetrics doctor left. “As the years went by, it looked more and more permanent. I was not confident we would ever bring women’s health back to Ripon.

“So ... I really embraced it[’s return]. It’s really breathed new life back into the hospital — no pun intended. It’s really something special to have babies in your hospital.”

Staff agree.

“That baby will get so much attention,” said Kierrin Phillips, the lead registered nurse for the Women and Infants Program.

Staff, in fact, joke about how all 13 nurses will want to be in the delivery room that first day.

“What makes it better is people I come into contact with who are not involved with the program stop me almost every day and they’re ecstatic,” said Dr. Steven Sheppard, the obstetrics doctor who will be delivering the babies. “People stop me in the restaurants and say, ‘I can’t wait until we have babies back in Ripon again.’”

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