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Joey Hermansen, 5, gets a push on a swing at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center from his pregnant mother Salwa, right. Hermansen, whose husband works for the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, traveled to Landstuhl to give birth as part of the Storknest program. To the left is Hermansen's Storknest "buddy" Tawny Campbell and Campbell's 4-year-old daughter, Ceilidhal.
Joey Hermansen, 5, gets a push on a swing at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center from his pregnant mother Salwa, right. Hermansen, whose husband works for the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, traveled to Landstuhl to give birth as part of the Storknest program. To the left is Hermansen's Storknest "buddy" Tawny Campbell and Campbell's 4-year-old daughter, Ceilidhal. (Steve Mraz / S&S)
Joey Hermansen, 5, gets a push on a swing at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center from his pregnant mother Salwa, right. Hermansen, whose husband works for the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, traveled to Landstuhl to give birth as part of the Storknest program. To the left is Hermansen's Storknest "buddy" Tawny Campbell and Campbell's 4-year-old daughter, Ceilidhal.
Joey Hermansen, 5, gets a push on a swing at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center from his pregnant mother Salwa, right. Hermansen, whose husband works for the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, traveled to Landstuhl to give birth as part of the Storknest program. To the left is Hermansen's Storknest "buddy" Tawny Campbell and Campbell's 4-year-old daughter, Ceilidhal. (Steve Mraz / S&S)
Salwa Hermansen, right, enjoys a laugh with Tawny Campbell last week while their children have fun at a Landstuhl Regional Medical Center playground.
Salwa Hermansen, right, enjoys a laugh with Tawny Campbell last week while their children have fun at a Landstuhl Regional Medical Center playground. (Steve Mraz / S&S)

European edition, Monday, April 30, 2007

LANDSTUHL, Germany — Beginning Tuesday, the stork will visit Landstuhl Regional Medical Center more often.

The hospital’s Storknest program — under which troops and spouses who have high-risk pregnancies and live outside the Kaiserslautern military community travel to Landstuhl to give birth — will expand and begin including pregnant, active-duty troops and spouses stationed at U.S. bases in the Azores and Turkey.

The change comes because Spangdahlem Air Base’s obstetrics and gynecology clinic is set to close July 1. Pregnant troops and spouses from the Azores or Turkey had been traveling to Spangdahlem to give birth.

Women already enrolled in the program at Spangdahlem will deliver there, but beginning Tuesday new applicants will be enrolled in Landstuhl’s program. Women from the Azores and Turkey do not have to have high-risk pregnancies to participate in the program.

With the change, Landstuhl is expecting an increase of eight more pregnant women a month.

“Last year, we only had a total of about 32 Storknesters for the entire year,” said Cookie Jennings, Landstuhl’s Storknest program coordinator.

“This year since January 1, I’ve already got 29 on the books.”

The women usually arrive in the last few weeks of their pregnancies, although some high-risk women can stay at Landstuhl for months.

During their time at Landstuhl, the pregnant women, or “Storknesters,” are assigned Storknest buddies, who take the Storknester under their wing — pun intended — and help them out.

The buddies befriend the pregnant women, who are often without their husbands until the final few days, and take them to the commissary, the exchange, the movie theater and on other errands and outings.

Salwa Hermansen, whose husband works at the U.S. Embassy in Egypt — embassy employees and family members are already eligible for the program — arrived at Landstuhl as a Storknester in early April. She is set to give birth in early May.

Hermansen’s volunteer buddy is Tawny Campbell. Although they had only known each other for only about 10 days, Hermansen already referred to their relationship as sisterly.

“[Campbell] made me feel like I’ve known her for years,” Hermansen said. “I met Tawny, and I was amazed at how nice she was to me, offering me things.”

Campbell has been a Storknest buddy for about four months.

“The thought always comes to my mind: ‘If this were me, how would I want to be treated?’” Campbell said.

“It’s that simple. If I’m pregnant, and my husband’s gone — whether he’s deployed, or I’m sent some place else — how would I want to be treated? Would I want a friend?”

Anyone interested in volunteering as a Storknest buddy at Landstuhl may call DSN 486-8434 for details.

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