Samaritan Hospitals Welcome First Babies Born in 2024

Enter news aEach New Year’s Eve, the maternity staff at the five Samaritan Health Services hospitals in Benton, Lincoln and Linn counties await the arrival of the first baby to be born to be born in the new year.

This year, Samaritan’s first baby of the new year was born in the early hours of New Year’s Day at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport, followed soon by the first babies to be born at the hospitals in Corvallis, Lincoln City, Lebanon and Albany. All were born on Monday, Jan. 1.

Each new family received a gift basket filled with adorable and useful items for the new baby, prepared by birthing center staff and/or auxiliary members at each hospital. The new parents also enjoyed a celebratory meal prepared by Nutrition Services.

Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital

Baby Jade was born to Heather and Joseph of Waldport at 3:30 a.m. (Family’s last name withheld by request of the parents.) She weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces and was 20.25 inches long.

Jade was welcomed home by big sister Layla, age 3 1/2, who was very happy to learn she had a baby sister, and not a brother, her parents reported. The couple had chosen to not know the sex of their child until it was revealed to them during delivery.

Jade surprised her parents by arriving three days early. The couple was having a quiet New Year’s gathering with friends when Heather’s contractions began and then became stronger. The couple packed up, arranged a sitter for Layla and headed north to Newport, with Jade arriving just a few hours later. Heather works as a stay-at-home mom and Joseph is a physical therapist with Samaritan.

Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center

Brianna and Jerry Zhu were pleasantly surprised about the speedy delivery of their first child, a little boy who arrived Monday morning at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.

Aemon Zhu was born at 8:35 a.m., less than three hours after the couple arrived at the hospital, becoming the official New Year’s Baby for Good Samaritan in Corvallis. At birth, Aemon weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces and was 20.5 inches long.

Jerry works in digital marketing and Brianna plans to be a stay-at-home mom. The couple live in the Eugene area but chose Good Samaritan after researching nearby hospitals.

“It’s the best hospital near us,” said Brianna.

Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital

Baby Lia Pech-Echeverria was born to Erik Pech and Jhenny Echeverria of Lincoln City at 2:02 p.m. She weighed 6 pounds, 3 ounces and was 19 inches long.

Lia was also welcomed home by a big sister, Lorretta, who is almost 5 years old. Father Erik commented that he would be outnumbered by girls in the family, to which Jhenny enthusiastically agreed.

Lia was born three weeks early, so she was truly a new year surprise to the family. Like the Waldport family, the Lincoln City parents also had no idea they were going to have a girl until her birth. Erik and Jhenny work in the hospitality industry in Lincoln City, he at Otis Café and she at the Inn at Spanish Head.

Samaritan Albany General Hospital

Jaxon Holton is the first baby born at Samaritan Albany General Hospital in 2024, to parents Kylie and Tanner Holton.

After a long and complicated delivery, baby Holton arrived at 5:28 p.m., close to his initial due date of Saturday, Dec. 30. He weighed 6 pounds, 3 ounces and was 20 inches long.

“Jax ended up with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, so we had an emergency c-section,” said Kylie. “We were so lucky to end up with such a great labor and delivery team. Our doctors were nothing but fantastic! We were also extremely impressed with our nurse who caught the complication early.”

The family’s New Year’s resolution is to focus on their growing family and getting settled into new routines.

“Jaxon already has the nickname ‘Baby Dragon’ from his 2 1/2-year-old bigger brother who can’t quite pronounce Jaxon yet,” laughed Kylie.

Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital

A local couple, Greta and Jess Ropp, experienced a delightful surprise as their newborn, Keziah Ropp, arrived at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital two weeks ahead of schedule, making her the hospital’s first baby of 2024. Born at 8:38 p.m., she weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces and measured 19.5 inches long.

“She was born on her great-great-grandmother’s birthday, so that’s really special,” said Jess.

The Ropp family has a tradition of selecting distinctive biblical names for their children.

“We usually have a name picked out several weeks in advance,” said Greta. “A week ago, we didn’t have a name. We asked our friends for help and fell in love with Keziah as soon as we heard it.”

Keziah joins a lively family of four older brothers and three older sisters. Greta shared, “Our 2-year-old has been practicing being an older sister by playing with her baby doll.”

All five of Samaritan’s birthing centers received the Birthing-Friendly designation and are home to teams highly trained in mother/baby care. To learn more, visit

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