As it prepares to close, Sutter Memorial is reaching back into its archives to collect as many baby pictures as possible from those born at what many call Sacramento’s “baby hospital.”
About 346,500 babies have been born at Sutter Memorial Hospital since it opened in East Sacramento in 1937. In August, its maternity services will move 2 miles west to the Anderson Lucchetti Women’s and Children’s Center, a newly built 10-story white metal tower at 28th and L streets.
The Depression-era birthing center needs to close due to earthquake concerns, and will join Sutter General Hospital and the Sutter Cancer Center at their midtown campus near Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park. The $750 million renovation and expansion of the complex has been underway for several years.
Sutter “babies” wishing to partake in communal nostalgia can send their own baby pictures or pictures of children they had there to sutterbabies.org, a site that launched Monday. About 350 snapshots featuring red-faced newborns and giggling toddlers are currently available for public browsing by first name.
To add to the collection, a consenting adult need only fill out an online form and upload a photograph. The album will be on display at Sutter Community Day on June 20, where attendees can personalize a baby key chain to take home. Select baby pictures have already started lighting up billboards on highways throughout the Sacramento region.
“Everyone talks about where they were born,” said Lori Thielen of the Sutter Health marketing department. “There’s a lot of emotional ties to Sutter Memorial Hospital and the care that was received there. And who doesn’t love babies?”
For Bernadette Barnes, the connection to Sutter Memorial runs deep. She gave birth to her oldest daughter, Hadley, there in 2011 with no problems. A year later when she became pregnant with her daughter Simone, it wasn’t so easy. A placenta previa – a complication in which the placenta covers some or all of the opening to the birth canal – kept her bedridden at the East Sacramento facility for many weeks. Simone arrived early but healthy thanks to the care she received there, Barnes said.
When she heard about the album project, Barnes wanted to celebrate the successful births of her daughters, now 2 and 3, by submitting their photos.
“I love my babies and I like to show them off whenever I can,” she said. “Sutter is such a special place. I know a lot of people are heartbroken about Memorial going away.”
Barnes, too, is attached to the historic hospital after having lived there for a time, but said she is excited about the new facility.
“I’m a little jealous that I won’t get to deliver there now,” she said.
Call The Bee’s Sammy Caiola, (916) 321-1636.
Sutter Community Day
What: Hospital tours, musical performances, family activities
When: June 20, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Anderson Lucchetti Women’s and Children’s Center, 2825 Capitol Ave.
More info: (916) 887-7000 to inquire about the event or the Sutter Babies project