Born at Shelby Baptist Women’s Center, she works with the nurse who took care of her in the NICU


Nurses at Shelby Baptist
Johna Young + Haleigh Matzke at Shelby Baptist. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

For more than 27 years, women in labor have made their way to Shelby Baptist Women’s Center in Alabaster to welcome their little ones to the world. Back in 1999, RN Haleigh Gowers Matzke was born at Shelby. Today, she’s come full circle, and works in the same Labor and Delivery unit where she was born, alongside nurse Johna Young, who took care of her in the NICU. Here is their story.

Meet Haleigh Gowers Matzke

Haleigh Gowers Matzke
Taking care of a little one at Shelby Baptist. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

Haleigh Gowers Matzke was born at Shelby and raised in nearby Columbiana, where her grandmother owned Gail’s Florist for 25 years. 

She and her husband live on family property in Columbiana, and love spending time outdoors with their dog. 

Matzke was always interested in nursing, but when she was 10, she had an experience that sealed the deal. One of her mom’s best friends had a baby. Unfortunately, the baby had a stroke in utero, and doctors predicted she wouldn’t live. After they went to visit her in the ICU, she told her mom she wanted to be a baby nurse. Sixteen years later, the girl who had the stroke is still alive, and Haleigh is now a nurse. 

Once she became a nurse, deciding to work at Shelby was a no-brainer. 

A friend from nursing school encouraged her to go to a job fair, and she accepted the job at Shelby in Labor and Delivery that night. Shawn Yarbrough, the person who interviewed her for the job, is still her manager today. 

“It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s a small unit, and we’re a close-knit team. Shawn really cares about us, and I know she would do anything for our unit. You don’t get that many places.”

Haleigh Gowers Matzke
Brookwood Baptist Health

Meet Johna Young

Shelby Baptist nurses
The selfie Haleigh + Johna took to send to Haleigh’s mom. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

Johna Young’s been at Shelby Baptist for 27 years. She remembers starting there when she moved back to Birmingham from Texas, a mere six months after the hospital started providing maternity care. 

Young remembers seeing Haleigh in passing, but didn’t really know her. Unbeknownst to her, Haleigh’s mom jokingly said one day, “I wonder if you work with anybody that was there when I had you?” One day soon after that, her mom pulled out some home videos and pointed out the nurse who had taken care of Haleigh in the NICU. They zoomed in, saw that the name tag said “Johna” and took a picture of it. 

During a night shift soon after, she ran into Johna and showed her the picture. Johna was surprised when Haleigh said that she was the baby. “That’s so crazy,” Johna said. “I think you’re the first patient-coworker I’ve ever had. 

“I’ve had the pleasure of seeing lots of miracles since I’ve been a nurse working in the NICU. Lots of the things premature babies used to be very sick from have improved 100% and are not that big of a deal any more. 

To have someone you took care of who ends up working in the same department at the same hospital—I’ve never heard of that in all the hospitals I’ve worked in.”

Johna Young
Brookwood Baptist Health

Why Haleigh Gowers Matzke loves working at Shelby Baptist Women’s Center

Shelby Baptist
So many babies born here. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

“From day one, Shelby Baptist has felt like home to me. I came here because I wanted to be a labor and delivery/nursery nurse and I have learned that and so much more. Along the way, I have grown so much. I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone, but never have I felt alone. 

I’ve learned what I needed to know, both to thrive and to take care of my patients. 

I love the teamwork of this unit even through challenges. I am learning things and growing as a nurse by doing things that labor nurses do not usually do. I have chosen to stay here because I want to see this unit rebuild and be stronger than ever. 

Another reason I choose to stay is because this community is my home and I know personally how crucial OB care is to this area. The team I work with is strong, and we depend on each other.”

Haleigh Gowers Matzke

Curious about OB/GYN care at Shelby Baptist Women’s Center? Visit their website to schedule an appointment today

Brookwood Baptist Health

Having a baby at Shelby Baptist Women’s Center

Shelby Baptist
Shelby Baptist’s Women’s Center. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

Shelby Baptist currently serves expectant mothers and babies in four key ways:

1. The OB-GYN care is steady + growing.

Shelby has one OB/GYN, named Dr. Saul Weinreb, who is delivering babies at the hospital, and they are working to recruit additional OB-GYN support to continue serving women in the community. 

“We are excited to partner with Cahaba Medical Care to bring more OB services to our community this summer! Cahaba Medical Center will be opening a new office near our campus starting with two new physicians serving the obstetrical needs of our campus.  Our team is excited to serve our growing community and to welcome new life into the world!”

Daniel Listi, CEO, Shelby Baptist2

2. The experienced Shelby Baptist Women’s Center Staff is ready to serve.

In addition, the Women’s Center Staff has 30+ years of experience to care for expectant mothers and babies, as well as the woman as a whole. 

3. The OB Emergency Department handles critical situations.

The hospital’s Obstetrical Emergency Department serves patients in critical situations arriving by ambulance or private vehicle.

4. The NICU staff takes care of the tiniest patients.

Finally, according to Listi, the hospital has “an AMAZING NICU staff available should our tiniest patients need a higher level of care.”

Thinking of having a baby at Shelby Baptist Women’s Center? Visit their website for more information today

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Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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