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Greenwich Nurse Convinced Irene Rushed Births

GREENWICH, Conn. -- Hurricane Irene left more than downed trees in Greenwich. Patricia Bierne, program director for Women’s and Children’s Services at Greenwich Hospital , thinks it may have been the reason for a spike in births at the hospital the weekend of the storm.

“There is an old wives’ tale that big storms cause women to go into labor because of the drop in barometric pressure,” Bierne said in her office days after Irene left her mark on Connecticut. Bierne’s own Greenwich home was still without power. “There isn’t any scientific evidence to back it up, but I’m not seeing a lot of reason to doubt it.”

Though it isn’t scientific, Bierne does offer 12 little pieces of evidence. That was the number of babies born at the hospital that weekend, a number she calls unusually high. To her knowledge, none of the girl newborns was named Irene.

Bierne has 40 years’ experience at the hospital, dating to her days as a candy striper when she was 14. There are still young people who help change diapers and tend to patients’ basic needs, but they call them junior volunteers now. “I was one of the fortunate ones to have really felt my calling early on,” Bierne says as she sits in her office at the hospital.

A scan of her resume shows that Bierne’s entire career, except when she was working on her nursing degree, has been spent at Greenwich Hospital. She also happens to be a Greenwich native.

As program director for Women’s and Children’s Services, Bierne helps coordinate and facilitate all aspects of pre-natal through post-partum care. That includes clinics for residents who can’t  afford children’s preventative care and vaccinations.

Bierne commended hospital staff members on how they handled the storm. Doctors and nurses slept at the hospital during Irene to make sure it was properly staffed. That may have bolstered Bierne’s belief in the old wives’ tale. While science might not prove its validity anytime soon, she’s quite content to let the evidence speak for itself. “I don’t see any reason to disagree with it,” she says, smiling and looking through the record of births.

What old wives' tales do you think have an ounce of truth to them?

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