Chimes play lullabies to welcome babies at JCMC


New mom Angie Moss of Jonesborough, with twins Samuel (left) and Isaac, at the Johnson City Medical Center Hospital.

from staff reports
There's no denying that playing chimes symbolizes celebrations. A wedding, a hero returning home, a welcome to church services -- all are reasons to ring bells.
At Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC), chimes play Brahm's "Lullaby" each time a baby is born, much to the delight of new parents, staff, doctors, nurses and visitors.
The playing of the lullaby began in late spring, and as team members and visitors caught on to what the music meant, good cheer spread throughout the Mountain States Health Alliance hospital. Often, visitors have been heard to say to others around them, "Oh, a new baby," and everyone smiles.
It's taking care of patients' needs in an emotional, spiritual way, a news release states.
"You can't argue with the celebration of life," said MSHA's Director of Guest Services Tom Tull, who was one of the first MSHA team members to get in on discussions about the lullaby being played.
John Melton, CEO of Washington County operations for MSHA, suggested the lullaby for babies at JCMC. He had instituted the playing of the lullaby at a hospital in Montgomery, Ala., where he was an administrator before coming to JCMC.
"I started doing this in Montgomery about 10 years ago after visiting the Cabbage Patch Birthing Center in Georgia. Every half hour or so, the factory would play Brahm's 'Lullaby' and a new baby would appear in the middle of a giant cabbage. You could adopt the baby, name it and take it home with you. I brought the idea back to the hospital I was running and the playing of the song became part of our culture," he said.
"Lullaby" is not played from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. the next day, to respect the quiet time needed by patients throughout the hospital. However, newborns don't wait! And, the lullaby is played as soon after 8 a.m. as possible for babies arriving after 10 the night before.
Moms are always alerted that the lullaby will play in honor of their babies, so they're sure to hear and understand that the melody is their own personal salute.
The lullaby sometimes gets a double play, as on Friday, Aug. 22, when Samuel and Isaac Moss were welcomed into the world by their parents, Angie and Buddy Moss of Jonesborough. The Moss children were born in the morning, and by 3:30 p.m., the family was ready for their lullabies. Played twice in quick succession, the Mosses and their extended family, including new grandparents, Mildred B. Hinkle of Johnson City, and William and Bettie Peters of Jonesborough, numerous aunts, uncles and cousins, listened intently in the new mother's room as their tribute lullaby was played -- twice. Nurses visiting the room nodded as they looked at each other.
Everyone enjoyed the moment, especially when the song began to play again. When the lullaby plays more than once, "Somebody always calls and asks if we have twins (or triplets) here," said Myra Arze, RN, laughing, adding the callers tend to think the "record is stuck."
Ruth Peters of Bristol, Va., great-grandmother of Isaac and Samuel, was unable to attend the "coronation." The little boys have one uncle, three aunts, eight great-uncles, "plus Ray," said Angie Moss, and eight great-aunts.
"We're blessed," the first-time mom said, adding that her twins are from a long line of multiple births in their families. "I was surprised to be having twins, though."
Marsha Rodgers, Clinical Leader in the JCMC Center for Women's Health, said when the lullaby was set up, it took some coordination between IS (Informational Systems), the nurses in The Women's Center, and some administrators.
"We listened to several versions. Somebody would say, 'That one's too long,' and then we'd start all over again," she said with a laugh. "It was quite a process. In fact, we listened to different songs." All agreed from the start, however, that the lullaby was a great idea.
"It livens up the hospital. We play it every day. We average three or four babies," Rodgers said.
The lullaby is also played, with the permission or at the request of parents, to honor or memorialize a baby. "We are considerate of how anybody feels about it. We always tell the mother before we play the lullaby so she can listen and know that particular lullaby is for her baby."
Rodgers also said the lullaby is not played for a certain baby until the mother knows what's being done. "We coordinate it with the patient's wishes, opening the mother's door if it's not open," Rodgers explained. Other family members often want to be in the room, or at least in the hospital, when the lullaby is played for their new little family member.
Rodgers said the lullaby is played only when an operator who presses the button for the lullaby to be played is called from a certain telephone and given a certain signal. "If we didn't do it that way, who knows who'd be requesting that little song?" she said.
"Each day, MSHA has deaths and births. New babies coming into the world are a celebration in itself. The playing of the lullaby brings a spark of happiness to our staff, patients and families as a new little person comes into the world,'' said Melton. He added that Brahm's Lullaby will be added to Johnson City Specialty Hospital, Indian Path Medical Center in Kingsport and Sycamore Shoals Hospital in Elizabethton in the future.
Melton said in Johnson City, he has heard comments from patients and family members. "One family member came and told one of our team members how much the playing of the song meant to his wife, who was dying. The song had a special meaning to this lady from sometime in the past."