Jessica McCullough holds her baby, Oliver, who was born Nov. 23 at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver. Yampa Valley Medical Center paid to fly Oliver and Jessica to Steamboat Springs, and the family is hoping that Oliver will be able to leave the hospital and go home to Hayden soon.

Jessica McCullough holds her baby, Oliver, who was born Nov. 23 at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver. Yampa Valley Medical Center paid to fly Oliver and Jessica to Steamboat Springs, and the family is hoping that Oliver will be able to leave the hospital and go home to Hayden soon. Photo by John F. Russell. |

YVMC pays for a newborn's flight from Denver hospital back to Steamboat

Hospital pays for mom, child to be flown from Denver


— Jessica McCullough is a proud new mother. She’s also thankful.

After spending the first 28 days of her son’s life at a Denver hospital, Yampa Valley Medical Center agreed to do what her insurance company wouldn’t: pay to send her home.

“It’s really meant more than what I could put into words,” McCullough said Tuesday. “The people (at YVMC) are amazing, and they do wonderful things for the people in our community. We should all be grateful. I know I am.”

In November, the Hayden resident was getting ready to visit Boulder to see her alma mater Kansas State University play football against the University of Colorado. But she wasn’t feeling well. She thought the swelling, headaches and stomach pain were just symptoms of her pregnancy.

But she decided to see her Steamboat doctor, Mary Bow­man, who diagnosed her with pre-eclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure. It can be cured only by giving birth, although expectant mothers with more mild cases can often manage the condition until the baby is developed enough to be delivered.

McCullough was transported to Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver. Three days later, on Nov. 23, 2010, she gave birth to Oliver Joseph Quigley. He weighed 2 pounds, 15 1/2 ounces and was 15 1/4 inches long. He was small but healthy.

Baby Oliver spent his first 28 days in Denver until he was old enough to return to YVMC. But there was a problem. McCullough said her insurance wouldn’t pay to cover the costs to transfer Oliver because such a move wasn’t medically necessary.

She said they were desperate to get home. Oliver’s father, Robert, could make the seven-hour, round-trip trek from their Hayden home to Denver and back only on weekends. McCullough said that month was the hardest of her life.

Then they received a gift. YVMC case manager Jane Howell arranged for the hospital to cover the costs to fly McCullough and Oliver on Dec. 16 from Centennial Airport in Engle­wood to Yampa Valley Reg­ional Airport.

So while they’re not quite home, they’re a lot closer.

McCullough spends most days in a room across the hall from Oliver in YVMC’s Family Birth Center, where he remains in the special care nursery. She’s able to continue to work, remotely, as an equipment account supervisor for TIC while she keeps close watch on her growing baby boy. Robert visits during lunch and after he gets off work as a carpenter in Steamboat Springs.

“I just want our community to know what wonderful resource we have with people who will go out of their way to help,” McCullough said about YVMC.

YVMC spokeswoman Chris­tine McKelvie said the hospital builds patient financial assistance into its annual budgets. She said the hospital provided $4.3 million in financial assistance during the 2009-10 fiscal year, up from $3.7 million in 2008-09.

McKelvie said the estimated cost to the hospital of the flight is $13,290 but the benefit to the family is priceless.

“It’s a way of taking care of our community,” she said. “We’re a nonprofit hospital. It allows us to give back to our patients.”

McCullough said she expects to have Oliver home in the next two weeks. George Dewiler, a registered nurse in the special care nursery that provides care for babies with a gestational age of 32 weeks and older, said Oliver can go home when he’s feeding properly.

On Tuesday, McCullough said Oliver consumed the contents of an entire baby bottle, a feat she called a “huge milestone.” She said he’s up to 5 pounds, 5 ounces. And in his first six weeks, McCullough said Oliver is calm, sleeps a lot and rarely cries — traits she hopes he maintains but joked weren’t likely to continue.

McCullough said having Oliver was the best thing she’s ever done.

“It’s amazing. I never knew I could love someone so much, especially after just meeting him,” she said. “I’m going to love being a mom, especially after we’ll be able to go home.”

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail


youseff 6 years, 3 months ago

Our son recently spent 3 days at YVMC and they couldn't not have taken better care of us. The staff was incredible and the care and compassion that they showed us was amazing. Every great community needs a place like this where we can feel safe and secure knowing that is there whenever we need it. Thank you YVMC!


1999 6 years, 3 months ago

YVMC is a great group of people.

Thank you christine and jane


Scott Wedel 6 years, 3 months ago

It would appear to have been a smart move by YVMC on the financial side as well because after two weeks and counting the cost of the transport is relatively small compared to the medical bills being covered by insurance.

So it is a true win win situation for the family and the hospital. Good to see that YVMC management is on the ball and doing the right things.


Carrie Requist 6 years, 3 months ago

This story really got me in my heart. My oldest was born 2 months early and spent 26 days in the ICU. Had I had to be away from home and my husband during that time, it would have been so much more difficult. I also had friends whose child was born out of town at 28 weeks and was medically transported home when he was stable enough.

Knowing some of how difficult this is on families, I am so happy to see that YVMC transported this child back home. What a great community we live in.


exduffer 6 years, 3 months ago

Glad you saw the real face of YVMC Scott.


bandmama 6 years, 3 months ago

another reason the Steamboat rocks, we do our best to take care of those in need


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.