Helping Little Hearts: Donations Requested for Red Newborn Hats

Newborns at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital will sport a different look for the month of February. Casting aside traditional pastels, the Women’s Health & Family Birthing Center is participating in the American Heart Association’s Little Hats Big Hearts campaign to raise awareness of congenital heart defects.

Members of the community are invited to knit or crochet newborn-sized hats using red cotton or acrylic yarn. These donations will be shared with the families who deliver babies during February at MedStar St. Mary’s. Parents will be given resources about congenital heart defects and can add the hashtag #littlehatsbighearts to their social media posts. Sample hat patterns and more information are available at

Donations are appreciated throughout January and February and may be dropped off at the Volunteer Services office in the hospital’s main building in Leonardtown. Please include the crafter’s name, address, and phone number with all donations.

For more information, contact Mary B. Cheseldine, volunteer and student services coordinator, by emailing [email protected] or calling 301-475-6453.

American Heart Association Photo

MedStar St. Mary’s Receives Recognition as a Baby-Friendly Designated Birth Facility

MedStar St. Mary's Hospital Receives Prestigious International Award

Albany, NY - Baby-Friendly USA, announces that MedStar St. Mary's Hospital has received prestigious international recognition as a Baby-Friendly Designated birth facility. Baby-Friendly USA, Inc is the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (“BFHI”), a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. Based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, this prestigious international award recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.

There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers worldwide. Currently there are only 405 active Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the United States.  The “Baby-Friendly” designation is given after a rigorous on-site survey is completed. The award is maintained by continuing to practice the Ten Steps as demonstrated by quality processes.

Further information about the U.S. Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative may be obtained by contacting:

Baby-Friendly USA, Inc.
125 Wolf Road, Suite 402
Albany, NY 12205 

Press Contact
Charmaine Tompkins
518-621-7982 PHONE
518-621-7983 FAX
[email protected]

Help Children Breathe Easier this Winter

We are pleased to introduce Gurpreet Phull, MD, who recently joined the MedStar Georgetown Pediatrics Division of Pulmonary Medicine. Dr. Phull completed his fellowship in pediatric pulmonary medicine at Children’s National Medical Center where he provided the full scope of consultation, diagnostic testing and treatment of children and adolescents with chronic lung diseases. Dr. Phull is now seeing patients at the MedStar Medical Group Specialists offices at Charlotte Hall.

How does winter weather affect children with asthma?

Winter is a time, undoubtedly, when children tend to get sick.  The weather is cold and being indoors in close quarters tends to allow viruses to spread.  Ultimately, it is viruses that lead to upper and lower airway inflammation and asthma exacerbations.  Children with asthma should take particular care heading out into the cold, making sure to bundle with thick coats, gloves, hats and scarves.

Should children with breathing issues be vaccinated against the flu?

It is prudent that any child older than 6 months of age with an underlying respiratory related disorder, such as asthma, and all household members living with that child, be vaccinated against the flu.  As it does take time for the body to develop immunity against the flu, you should receive the flu vaccine as early as possible.

When should parents consider taking their children to a physician (or specialist)?

Parents should take their child to a specialist when their child has respiratory symptoms that are not well-controlled on the current regimen or are out of proportion to other children their age.  It is important to investigate these respiratory symptoms earlier to avoid delay in treatments and adverse outcomes.

Are there any extra precautions parents should have their children take during the winter months?

Precautions that we can all take during these winter months relate to measures to decrease the spread of viruses and bacteria.  This includes correct cough and sneeze maneuvers - coughing or sneezing into your arm or elbow, proper hand washing for at least 20 seconds, and sanitizing services and objects where viruses and bacteria can lay dormant.

Learn more about our pediatric specialists at or call 202-295-0547 to make an appointment with Dr. Phull.

Gurpreet Phull, MD


Jean Marie Haggerty, MD, Takes Caring for Children to Heart

It takes only a few minutes talking with Jean Marie Haggerty, MD, to realize she is someone who truly loves what she does. Dr. Haggerty, a board-certified pediatrician with MedStar Georgetown Pediatrics Primary Care in Leonardtown, moved to St. Mary’s County a year ago after practicing in Northern Virginia the previous 10 years.  

“Caring for a child from birth to adolescence is a privilege,” she said. “There is always a challenge every day in pediatrics – it keeps you fresh, it keeps you young, it keeps you on your toes.”

Always interested in medical sciences, it was her experience working closely with children that steered her toward a career in pediatrics.

 “The year after college, I worked with abused and at-risk children,” Dr. Haggerty said. “One day, I was on the phone with my dad and he said, ‘Have you ever thought about being a doctor – a pediatrician?’ It was as if a light bulb went on and I realized that being a pediatrician could combine the clinical aspects of medicine with advocacy and care of children.”

Dr. Haggerty graduated with honors from Cornell University, then earned her medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School and was named to AOA Honor Medical Society. She completed her pediatrics residency at Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts in 2003. Named a Top Doctor by Washingtonian Magazine in 2015 and Washington Parents magazine in 2012, she is a firm believer that patient care extends beyond the office visit.

“Children are not just our patients for the 15 to 20 minutes they are in the office,” she said. “Phone calls to make sure things are going well after you leave the office, asking if there are any questions after the visit - that’s important follow-up care.”

Before moving to St. Mary’s, Dr. Haggerty was working as a pediatrician in Reston, Virginia, and was hoping to incorporate teaching and academic medicine into her practice.  

“I saw MedStar Georgetown’s job posting and I thought it would be a great fit because Georgetown has a reputation of clinical excellence,” she said. “I met the staff and felt a connection with them. The staff is wonderful to work with and I feel MedStar Georgetown supports providing optimal care to patients.”

Fostering a good relationship with her patients and their parents is a critical component of thorough care, according to Dr. Haggerty.

“Compassion and understanding blended with providing excellent medical care is essential  because a patient is not just a body,” she said. “They have feelings and emotions and making sure there is a relationship between the doctor and the patient improves outcomes and care for everyone involved.”

Parent Perspective


My son, Robbie, was having a lot of medical issues and no one knew what to do. We started seeing Dr. Haggerty last summer, and she ordered several tests - she wasn’t going to give up until she found out what was going on with him. She really felt it was sleep apnea and sent him for a sleep study. He had his tonsils out a few weeks ago and all of the issues we had been having with him are gone. It was all his tonsils. After the surgery, she called three times just to check on him. I have never had a pediatrician give my kids so much effort and care. 

- Ginny Gretton, mother of Robbie, 6



The Monday after our son, Cameron, was born, Dr. Haggerty received a frantic voicemail from us. Cameron was born with a cleft palate. As new parents, we were stunned and didn’t know what to do. She came to the hospital to let us know everything would be okay and she would be with us through this journey. From the time he was born until now she continues to research information for Cam, see him whenever needed, and has always been available for a phone call. After we selected our craniofacial surgical team, she has continued to work closely with them to ensure her medical plan remains in line with theirs. We are truly grateful to have found such an amazing advocate for our son. 

- Robin Gatton, mother of Cameron, 7 months




haggerty and baby

Learn more about Dr. Haggerty and MedStar Georgetown Pediatrics by calling 301-475-4610.

Shanti Medical Center
26840 Point Lookout Road, Suites 5 & 6
Leonardtown, MD 20650


Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding


Are you a new mom or going to be? MedStar St. Mary's Hospital offers a variety of maternity services to the public, including support groups, Birthing Center tours, lactation consultants, and CPR. You can find out more about our events and classes online by visiting, as well as learn about our hospital's guide to breastfeeding below.

MedStar St. Mary's...

  1. Has a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  1. Trains all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.

  1. Informs all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.

  1. Helps mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.

  1. Shows mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they are separated from their infants.

  1. Advises mothers to give infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically necessary.

  1. Practices rooming-in (allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day).

  1. Encourages breastfeeding on demand.

  1. Advises mothers to give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.

  1. Fosters an establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refers mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.

MedStar St. Mary's Hospital upholds the World Health Organization/UNICEF “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” published in a joint statement entitled: “Protecting, Promoting and Supporting Breastfeeding: The Special Role of Maternity Services”. The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding form the basis of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a worldwide breastfeeding quality improvement project created by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers also uphold the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes by offering parents support, education, and educational materials that promote the use of human milk rather than other infant food or drinks, and by refusing to accept or distribute free or subsidized supplies of breast milk substitutes, nipples, and other feeding devices.

Delivering Healthier Babies

We Make Healthy Babies Our Top Priority

A healthy baby is all any expectant mother wants, which is why MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s Women’s Health & Family Birthing Center strives to make every mother’s birthing experience at our hospital the healthiest possible.

Babies Graph

Reducing Early Deliveries

We are proud to partner with the March of Dimes to ensure the health and safety of babies born at our hospital. Because prematurity continues to be the No. 1 killer of babies in the United States, the March of Dimes works to educate mothers about the importance of waiting until 39 weeks, if possible, to deliver their babies.

Premature births:
• Affects more than 450,000 babies each year in the United States
• Is the leading cause of death for children younger than 5
• Can cause lifelong health challenges

Last fall, our hospital was recognized by the March of Dimes Maryland-National Capital Area Chapter for reducing births before 39 weeks. MedStar St. Mary’s has specific policies and procedures in place to prevent scheduling deliveries before 39 weeks, except when medically necessary.

Baby Friendly Hospital

Breastfeeding continues to be recognized by the World Health Organization as the best choice for newborns. We are striving to become a Baby Friendly Hospital with the goal of promoting optimal newborn health by developing knowledge and confidence for new mothers who plan to breastfeed. 

Hospitals who are Baby Friendly promote successful breastfeeding by:
• Helping mothers begin breastfeeding within one hour of birth
• Rooming in – Allows mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day
• Encourage breastfeeding on demand
• Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and encourage mothers to attend them

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global effort by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Our Birthing Center Offers the Comfort of Home

Women’s Health & Family Birthing Center features five birthing rooms designed with the mother-to-be’s comfort in mind. The center’s 12 private postpartum suites were specifically created to accommodate families during this special time. Tours are available the second and fourth Sundays of each month. Participants must register by calling 301-475-6019. 

Baby on the Way? We Can Help!

Health Connections, the hospital’s community outreach program, offers a variety of educational opportunities for expectant parents including classes on breastfeeding, childbirth, baby care, and infant CPR. Visit for class information or call 301-475-6019.

Pediatric Studies Important Part of Diagnosing Sleep Issues in Children

DSC_4976 DSC_4828

Sound Sleep Equals School Success

Steven Gregory “Greg” Wise was missing a lot of school. Absent 33 days of his fifth grade year, Greg’s parents and teachers were worried. “Every morning he would wake up and say he didn’t feel well - his head hurt, he had a stomach ache. It was a fight to get him to go to school,” said his mother, Veronica Wise of Clements, Maryland. “The school was great and worked with us, but his teachers were concerned about him missing so many days when he went to middle school.” 

Greg’s mother knew he had trouble sleeping, but it wasn’t until he went to see several specialists and participated in a sleep study that she realized how badly it was affecting him. Suffering from severe allergies and constant ear infections, Greg’s mother said his breathing issues seemed to be worsening as he was getting older. His allergist referred Greg to a pediatric pulmonologist, who recommended he undergo a sleep study.

Greg’s doctors determined he had narrow airways which — coupled with his allergies — made it difficult for him to breathe. The sleep study showed he woke up continuously through the night and stopped breathing a number of times. Greg underwent surgery to remove his adenoids and reposition his ear tubes. A sleep study following his surgery showed the procedures made a big difference in his quality of sleep. 

Sleep Studies Easy for Most Kids 

Temitayo Oyegbile, MD, PhD, director of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s Sleep Lab
Temitayo Oyegbile, MD, PhD, director of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s Sleep Lab

When Greg Wise took his first sleep study with Temitayo Oyegbile, MD, PhD, director of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s Sleep Lab, the results showed he stopped breathing 12-15 times an hour. “Greg’s case was severe,” said Dr. Oyegbile who is board certified in pediatric neurology and sleep medicine. “Young kids shouldn’t be waking like that. It really has a negative effect on them.” 

The sleep study was an important tool in diagnosing and treating Greg’s sleep issues. Many parents may be apprehensive about pediatric sleep studies, but according to Dr. Oyegbile most children handle the experience very well. “The sleep lab is very kid-friendly. The techs are great with the kids and are trained to make the experience more comfortable for them,” said Dr. Oyegbile. “Parents get quite nervous having their kids in an unfamiliar environment overnight, but the kids typically do quite well.” 

Greg is now sleeping better following surgery, but many childhood sleep issues can be resolved without surgery. “There are other interventions we can try first,” said Dr. Oyegbile. “Controlling allergies, herbal supplements and behavioral changes are all strategies to consider before surgery. Often when kids do need surgery it is a five-minute procedure – removing tonsils or adenoids. Not all surgeries are as in-depth as Greg’s.”

For more information on pediatric sleep studies with Dr. Oyegbile, call 202-243-3499 or visit for more on our state-of-the-art Sleep Lab.

MedStar St. Mary’s Welcomes First Babies of 2016


Birthing Center Enjoys 'Full House' on New Year’s Day

“We had a full house in the birthing center as we entered the New Year,” according to Women's Health and Family Birthing Center (WH&FBC) Director, Kathy Whitecotten. “We are so excited to help these families begin their new year with such a special experience.”

Carla Ford was one of the first mothers to give birth New Year’s Day. Avaya “Ava” Briscoe was born at 1:27 p.m. and weighed 6 pounds, 7.7 ounces.  Ford went into labor on New Year’s Day and was only in labor for four hours. “She came pretty quickly,” Ford said.

A resident of Waldorf and St. Mary’s County native, Ford delivered her first child, older brother Kieon, now 8, at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital and wanted to deliver her second child here as well.

 “I just loved my doctors – they just made my experience so great,” she said. “Everything was perfect.”

WH&FBC features five birthing rooms designed with the mother-to-be’s comfort in mind. The center’s 12 private postpartum suites were specifically created to accommodate families during this special time. The hospital has seen a steady rise in births during the last four years. From 2012 to 2015, the birth rate has risen 15.65 percent from 1,093 births in 2012 to 1,264 births in 2015.

Avaya “Ava” Briscoe was one of five babies born at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital on New Year’s Day. Pictured with Ava are big brother, Kieon, and mother, Carla Ford of Waldorf.
Avaya “Ava” Briscoe was one of five babies born at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital on New Year’s Day. Pictured with Ava are big brother, Kieon, and mother, Carla Ford of Waldorf.

About MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital
MedStar St. Mary's Hospital (MSMH) is a full-service community hospital, delivering state-of-the-art emergency, acute inpatient and outpatient care in Leonardtown, Maryland. Nestled in a waterside community, MedStar St. Mary's provides advanced technology with a dedication to excellence in all services provided. The not-for-profit hospital has been named among the nation’s Top 100 Hospitals™ and is an eight-time recipient of the prestigious Delmarva Medicare Excellence Award. In addition, MSMH received the Maryland Performance Excellence award at the Platinum level in 2014 – the highest in the state. Our staff is committed to providing quality and compassionate medical care for all patients by coupling innovation with our outstanding team of Medical Staff members, associates, and volunteers. Visit to learn more.

Maternity Services

MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital offers a variety of educational opportunities for expectant parents. Coordinated through Health Connections, the hospital’s community outreach program, classes cover topics such as breastfeeding, childbirth, baby care and infant CPR. In addition, tours of the Women’s Health & Family Birthing Center are available the second and fourth Sundays of each month.  Parents must register for classes and tours; some fees apply.

Visit for maternity services at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital. For more information about classes, call Health Connections at 301-475-6019.


Holly Meyer
[email protected]


Pediatric Open House Planned for Saturday, June 13

Leonardtown, Maryland (June 5, 2015) – MedStar Georgetown Pediatrics will be hosting an open house Saturday, June 13, from 10 a.m. to noon at its St. Mary’s location in the Shanti Medical Center, 26840 Point Lookout Road, Suites 5 & 6, Leonardtown, Maryland. Present at the open house will be the newest members of the MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital medical team - pediatric specialists Jean Marie Haggerty, MD, and Patricia (Trish) Fedorchak, MS, CRNP.

Dr. Haggerty has nearly 15 years of experience and is board-certified in pediatrics. After attending Cornell University for her undergraduate degree, she received her medical degree at Eastern Virginia Medical School and completed her pediatrics residency at Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Haggerty is licensed to practice medicine in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., and is excited about her move to St. Mary's County. Dr. Haggerty offers care for children of all ages, including newborns and adolescents.

Trish Fedorchak has more than 16 years of experience as a board-certified family nurse Practitioner. She attended Case Western University for her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and obtained her Master’s Degree through the Georgetown University Family Practice Nurse Practitioner program. Trish has extensive experience caring for children and young adults in the primary care setting as well as college health. 

Light refreshments and summer safety information will be available during the open house. Children are welcome and encouraged to attend. For more information about MedStar Georgetown Pediatrics or the open house, call (301) 475-4610.

Learn more about pediatrics at MedStar St. Mary's Hospital.

About MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital

MedStar St. Mary's Hospital (MSMH) is a full-service community hospital, delivering state-of-the-art emergency, acute inpatient and outpatient care in Leonardtown, Maryland. Nestled in a waterside community, MedStar St. Mary's provides advanced technology with a dedication to excellence in all services provided. The not-for-profit hospital has been named among the nation’s Top 100 Hospitals™ and is an eight time recipient of the prestigious Delmarva Medicare Excellence Award. In addition, MSMH received the Maryland Performance Excellence award at the Platinum level in 2014 – the highest in the state. Our staff is committed to providing quality and compassionate medical care for all patients by coupling innovation with our outstanding team of Medical Staff members, associates and volunteers. Visit to learn more.

Media Contact

Holly Meyer
Public Relations & Marketing Director
[email protected]
Phone: 301-475-6010