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Salinas Valley Health Welcomes Monterey County’s First Baby of 2021

Salinas Valley Health Welcomes Monterey County’s First Baby of 2021

Media Contact: Karina Rusk

A Salinas mother gave the staff at Salinas Valley Health another reason to celebrate the New Year. Maria Flores Velasco gave birth to a baby boy at 12:06 this morning, making Manuel de Jesus the first baby born in Monterey County in 2021.

“2020 was a tough year for all of us,” said Dr. Ken Jones, delivering physician from Salinas Valley Health Clinics Healthcare for Women. “Bringing new life into the world is always a joy and being a part of this first delivery of 2021 is especially significant as we all look forward to a better year ahead. It has special meaning for me.”

Flores Velasco shared in Spanish that Manuel is her first boy and he will join three sisters at home, two twin girls who are eight years old and her oldest daughter who is 14 years old. When asked what it is like to have the first baby of 2021, she smiled and replied “Bien.” She also thanked the nurses at Salinas Valley Health Medical Center for helping to care for her and her newborn. The nurses were equally grateful to be a part of the celebration.

“This birth was like a breath of fresh air for all of us,” said Krista Paulo, RN who works in the Level III NICU. “With COVID, we have seen so much tragedy this year, so to have this perfect, healthy little baby and mom doing fantastic just minutes after ringing in 2021 gives us hope and inspiration that this will indeed be a better year ahead.”

Baby Manuel de Jesus weighed six pounds, four ounces at birth and was delivered less than three hours after mom arrived to the medical center on New Year’s Eve.

The birth comes as staff continues to care for a significant number of COVID-19 patients in separate designated units at the medical center. Currently, there are 70 COVID-19 related patients in the hospital, 48 are in enhanced isolation and are classified as active COVID cases. The remaining are no longer infectious however they initially came in with COVID symptoms, were diagnosed as COVID positive and continue to require hospitalization and in some cases, breathing assistance.

Approximately 1800 babies are born at Salinas Valley Health Medical Center every year. Earlier this year, Salinas Valley Health earned the Blue Distinction Special Care Designation for Maternity Care. The Blue Distinction Specialty Care is a national designation program, awarded by local Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies recognizing healthcare providers that demonstrate expertise in delivering quality and affordable health care to meet consumer’s specialty care needs.

Editor Note: Photos by Richard Green: Maria Flores Velasco with baby Manuel de Jesus Flores Hernandez

Salinas Valley Health First Baby Video

  • Video of mom and baby
  • Cutaway
  • Interview with Ken Jones, MD / Salinas Valley Health Clinics Healthcare for Women
  • Interview: Krista Paulo, RN / NICU Nurse
  • More (even better) video of mom and baby
  • Spanish language interview with mom, Maria Flores Velasco using translator - not a lot there as she is a little shy and not too talkative, but her smile says it all.

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