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Military families cope with deployment all the time. Couples deal with pregnancy and birth all the time. When that milestone of new life comes at the same time as deployment, emotions run high. Active-duty Army sergeant Matthew Morris was training in Texas just before a deployment to Afghanistan. His wife Ashley was counting the days until she would give birth. Matthew managed to return home in time to join Ashley at St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital when she went into labor. With the help of Stephen T. Cestari, DO, and the entire staff at St. Luke’s, Matthew and Ashley were able to create typical labor and birth memories.

Madison was born on April 15, 2014, just 24 hours before her Daddy had to head back to Texas where he was preparing for his deployment. Just moments after Matthew left the hospital, a nurse found Ashley crying as she was about to feed her newborn.

Ashley Morris
baby madison

“The nurse came in and sat right next to me, hugging me, telling me it’s going to be OK,” Ashley recalls. “Telling me how strong I was and that I have this beautiful little girl that I get to hold and look at every day and let me know that everything is going to be OK.”

Taking care of Mommy and Baby means more to the St. Luke’s staff than simply responding to the usual newborn needs of feedings, changing, and giving Mom a chance to recover. As one staff member observes, “While Mom held her baby, we held Mom.”

Matthew returned home earlier this spring and the family is all together again. Sometimes Ashley cannot help but think back to the day Madison and Matthew had together and the wise words of the nurse from St. Luke’s.

Ashley says it is a moment for which she will be eternally grateful.

St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital (SLCH) is a not-for-profit healthcare system committed to serving the needs of those in the Hudson Valley. With dedicated staff, modern facilities, and high-quality care, SLCH provides comprehensive inpatient and outpatient services to the community. SLCH is a Level III Trauma Center and operates one of the busiest Emergency Departments between New York City and Albany, with just under 5,000 visits per month at the hospital’s Newburgh campus.

In 2014, SLCH became the only hospital in New York State to achieve the Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award for four years running. SLCH was also named one of the Top Hospitals in NYS by U.S. News & World Report. As healthcare delivery continues to change, SLCH is focused on the Triple Aim: learning to work more efficiently, better coordinating services among providers, and delivering safe, high-quality care within the walls of the hospital and out in the community.

St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital

Newburgh Campus
70 DuBois St.
Newburgh, NY

Cornwall Campus
19 Laurel Ave.
Cornwall, NY

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Hudson Valley Magazine editorial staff.