It was more than 100 years ago, on Christmas Eve 1921, when the first baby was born at the newly opened Boone County Hospital. David Etheridge, son of William and Fannie Etheridge, became the first Boone baby – and the babies have been arriving ever since.
Four Boone babies entered the world in March 1987, August 1988, May 1991 and June 1994, all children of Grant “Van” Dyke Darkow, MD and his wife, Caryl. When their son Andrew arrived in 1987, Dr. Darkow was immersed in a post-sophomore fellowship in pathology at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. He was a fourth-year student when Erik arrived in 1988 and a resident when their daughter Courtney appeared on the scene in 1991. By the time their son Blake showed up in 1994, Dr. Darkow was working as a pathologist for Boyce and Bynum. In 1995, he was stationed at Boone Hospital where he has remained for nearly 30 years.
Parents are always choosing which hospital they want their children to be born in. Doctors who become parents are no exception. You could say that those who choose where they work, like Dr. Darkow, might have a little insider information that inspires confidence.
“Boone has always provided excellent medical care. That starts with the OBGYNs that we’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with over the years. Also, the staff is top-notch. The nurses, assistants, and everyone involved are so knowledgeable, experienced, and very caring,” Dr. Darkow says. “Boone has an excellent neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The neonatologists are so knowledgeable. Most anything you can think of that might happen in delivery they can take care of.”
Boone Hospital offers a Level III NICU. Only Level IV units offer a higher level of care. There are only three Level IV NICU’s in Missouri. Boone and Women’s and Children’s hospitals are among the 16 Level III NICUs in the state.
Dr. Darkow’s father was an atmospheric science professor at Mizzou, but his parents always went to Boone when they needed care. Caryl’s father, Dr. Lenard Politte, also a graduate of Mizzou School of Medicine, was instrumental in starting an interventional cardiology program at Boone in 1969. Boone Hospital runs deep in this family – especially where babies are concerned.
Van and Caryl recently became grandparents for the first time — actually, three times in rapid succession. Daughter Courtney and husband, Tom, delivered baby girl Cooper, on October 14, 2022, followed quickly by Erik and wife, Lynley’s, daughter, Nell, who arrived on December 15, 2022. About a month later, on January 14, 2023, Andrew and his wife, Katie, a physical therapist at Boone, brought their son Grant into the world. All three babies took their first breaths at Boone.
“When my husband and I found out we were expecting, we made the move back to Columbia. And I knew there was only one choice when it came to care and delivery. I wanted our sweet girl to be a Boone Baby,” Courtney says. “I felt so confident and comfortable knowing that my needs and wishes would be met and that’s exactly what I experienced. The team of doctors and nurses at Boone are the epitome of professionalism while, at the same time, incredible communicators with the best bedside manners. Boone will always be our number-one choice!”
Erik and Lynley also give Boone high marks for their major event.
“We had a great experience back in December when our daughter, Nell, was born at Boone,” Erik says. “From the moment we walked through the doors, from check-in to discharge, we received exceptional care. Nell spent her first couple of days in the NICU. We were comforted knowing that she was under the supervision of a skilled, knowledgeable, and compassionate staff to get her healthy.”
Sibling rivalry aside, Andrew and Katie were touched by those who went above and beyond.
“The amount of care, compassion, and and dedication during our experience was extraordinary,” says Andrew. “From the physicians to the nurses to techs, everyone went above and beyond to get to know us as patients and people as we went through this process of expanding our family. One of our nurses, Teresa, stayed past the end of her scheduled shift to help us through our last part of labor. She even came down the following morning to check on us, even though we had moved to a different unit. That is just one example of the outstanding care we received during our stay. We could probably write a similar story about all the staff we encountered.”
It takes a village to deliver a child. Moms and dads, grandparents, physicians, nurses, and other staff create a united front for their Boone babies.
David Etheridge might have been the first baby delivered at Boone Hospital, but he has been far from the last. Thousands of Boone babies — including the Darkow children and grandchildren — have been welcomed to the world from here. The tradition of Boone babies having Boone babies is bound to continue!
By Michelle Terhune