An extended family recently traded the traditional waiting room for a party in the parking lot at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne in anticipation of the joyous arrival of a new family member.

Expectant parents Shannon and Ryan Koonsman arrived at Texas Health Cleburne on Oct. 3, and Koonsman/Moczygemba families soon began to assemble, excited to meet the newest member of the family.

“They were respectful of COVID-19 visitor restrictions and understood they could not come into the hospital to wait,” said Melissa Townley, M.S.N., R.N., patient safety, risk manager.

Family members, including great-grandparents, grandparents, great-aunts, a great-uncle and an aunt, set up camp in the parking lot.

“They chose a spot in back of the hospital in the employee parking lot because they could see the window where the Koonsmans were preparing for the birth of their daughter,” Townley said. “They could see lights, shadows and vague movements, but that was all.”

Baby Lexi Koonsman didn’t arrive as quickly as family members anticipated, so they put their vehicles in a circle and set up chairs to see a great view of the room where the parents prepared for the birth.

“They made signs, visited, napped in their vehicles and spent time together as they waited overnight for the infant to arrive,” Townley said. “Hospital staff leaving and arriving for their shifts chatted with family members and offered encouragement.”

Townley received a call about the baby’s arrival from Kimber Koonsman Gardner, the baby’s aunt, during the hospital’s daily safety briefing on Oct. 4, and hospital staff celebrated her safe arrival.

“We are excited about every baby born at Texas Health Cleburne, but the support shown to this couple was so sweet that it gave all of us a real emotional lift,” said Toni Pinyan, B.S.N., R.N., RNC-OB, C-EFM, manager of women and infant services.

The Koonsmans were appreciative of the support shown.

“Thank you to everyone: The hospital staff, nurses and doctors were all wonderful and very supportive,” Shannon Koonsman said.

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