Skip to Content

Published on January 24, 2020

For Heather Dean, Women’s Hospital Holds a Special Place in Her Heart

Heather Dean and Family

Heather Dean will attest that family is not defined by blood. Her experience as a patient at Women’s Hospital instilled that mindset in both her and her family.

“When you walk out of that place, you are going to be changed beyond just having a new baby. You are walking out with three to four new family members. They care about you,” she explains. “Women’s Hospital will always hold a special place in my heart.”

For Dean, her life changed when she was admitted to Women’s Hospital in March 2016. At 24 weeks pregnant with her son, Bowen, Heather developed preeclampsia, a medical condition that occurs when the placenta fails to grow as it should. When severe, it puts both mother and infant at risk. She would spend the next four weeks in the hospital under the constant care of doctors and nurses. With her husband and family having to continue working, it was the nurses that Heather says got her through the darkest of days.

“By the first week, I felt like I knew them so well. They invested so much in me. They invested in my life,” she said. “The whole nursing staff mean a lot to us. When the nurses came in, I was so excited. They took the time to interact with me, and it made me feel like a human being.”

Unlike many who come through the doors of Women’s Hospital, Heather never experienced labor and delivery. She and her husband lost their son April 5.

“When we did lose Bowen, all the nurses from the first floor came and saw me. They didn’t have to come see me, but they knew this child. They experienced the loss, too,” she recalls. “It blew me away that they cared so much and took the time to come see me and express how sorry they were.”

For Heather, the story is not about her but rather a promise she made to her son. “I told Bowen I would share his story,” she says with equal amounts of determination and love. And Women’s Hospital is where she finds comfort. It is where she feels safe. 

“People often ask ‘How can you walk into a place where you felt so much pain and sadness?’ It is the Women’s Hospital staff that keeps me coming back,” she explains. “I know it is OK if I burst out in tears. The pain does come back and when it does, they are there to offer a hug. The people that walk those halls are my safe place.” 

Dean was able to experience labor and delivery when she and her husband welcomed their second son in May 2017. “He was our surprise baby. God saw it fit and blessed us with Benjamin,” she says. “When the nurses found out I was expecting my second son, they were happy for us.”

After spending his first two weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit at Women’s Hospital, 18-month old Benjamin is thriving.

Seeing Women’s Hospital move is bittersweet for Heather, but she knows it’s not the building that ultimately brings her comfort. It’s the people.

“It is my safe place. It’s where I can go to feel safe. I know what is held behind those walls,” she added. “I don’t want to ever forget that hospital. The whole staff that was involved in my care stepped up and were there. I tell everybody that these nurses are my family. They love my husband and both my sons.”

Patient Stories

  • Bwana Lloyd

    Homeless Yet Hopeful: Cone Health Offers Helping Hand

    Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bwana Lloyd lost her job as a hairdresser, ended her engagement and found herself without a place to call home. Thanks to the Cone Health-managed Rockingham County Care Connect program, the Annie Penn Foundation, the Free Clinic of Rockingham County and others, Bwana has been able to access the free preventative, routine and ongoing care she needs to stay healthy.
    January 28, 2021
  • Melvin Burnett

    Weight Loss Surgery: Melvin Burnett's Journey

    “I didn’t want to die, to make my son an orphan and my wife a widow,” Melvin Burnett says. “I became determined not to allow disease to cripple me like it had crippled my father. I felt God telling me to make a change.” With help from the Cone Health Bariatric Weight Loss Program
    January 7, 2021
  • Amanda Wallendorf

    When Migraines Won’t Go Away, Ask Why

    It took a stroke before a sheriff’s deputy was able to make the heart-head connection.
    October 14, 2020
  • Weight Loss Surgery: Ron Payne's Journey

    Weight Loss Surgery: Ron Payne's Journey

    Ron well understands why everyone he talked to before having bariatric surgery said they wished they’d had surgery sooner. “I knew I’d done everything I could do to lose weight, and my kids are in the best years of their lives,” he says. “Why would I want to put this off any longer?”
    September 28, 2020