Marian and Ben Saks, DO, both grew up in Schuyler County. Her parents live two miles down the road in Hector and several of his family members live in the area as well, including his dad, Dr. William Saks, a beloved ob-gyn physician recently retired from Schuyler Hospital, where Ben now practices internal medicine. “Ours was an arranged marriage,” Ben says, laughing. “My sister and Marian’s cousins decided we should end up together.” And it came to pass that Marian and Ben were married in 2010.

Three years later their daughter, Morgan, was born at Cayuga Medical Center, delivered by certified nurse midwife Kate Pierce of Ob-Gyn Associates of Ithaca. Just under two years later, on December 23, 2014, their son, Logan, came along, an early Christmas present delivered by Dr. Dvorah Milner, a colleague of Pierce. Both Saks babies arrived slightly before their due dates. One was born in the previous maternity unit after a long, difficult labor and was delivered by a certified nurse midwife. The other arrived in a big hurry in the new Cayuga Birthplace and was delivered by an obstetrician.

“It was a great experience each time,” says Marian, “and the nursing staff was wonderful. The new unit is beautiful and the rooms are huge,” she adds. “I wish I’d had that whirlpool tub to relax in during my first labor.” Ben, who slept in his wife’s room after each delivery, agrees. “The new unit is nicer than most hotels,” he says. “It’s pretty swanky!” As outstanding as the new accommodations are, the Sakses agree that the caregivers are the real stars. “We wanted the option of having a nurse midwife, which Ob-Gyn Associates offers,” says Marian, “and we went back to them during my second pregnancy. They are very approachable and easy to talk to.” The couple also appreciated the flexibility offered to expectant parents at Cayuga Medical Center. “The nurses there talk to you about what your birth plan is and what you want to do,” Marian says. “They’re really fantastic.”

Being in their thirties, Ben says many of his and Marian’s friends are also having babies now. “Accessibility is important,” he says. “A lot of people living in Schuyler County think that Elmira is closer but for us Cayuga Medical Center is closer.” From their house to Ithaca is twenty-one miles, whereas Elmira is thirty miles away. “Not only is Cayuga Medical Center closer but it has grown in leaps and bounds,” he adds. “They’ve got a new maternity unit and a brand new surgical floor. It’s very modern and easily accessible to people living in Schuyler County.”

Ben Saks joined the medical staff at Schuyler Hospital just before the affiliation process with Cayuga Medical Center began four years ago. He appreciates the special challenges faced by small rural hospitals such as Schuyler, whose ob-gyn unit closed a few years ago. “It’s hard for hospitals like ours because the patient population is small and it can become difficult to maintain services like a viable ob-gyn department. That is a hard fact to accept.

“As a primary care physician I understand that accessibility to needed services is important,” Saks continues, “and that’s why I am a big proponent of affiliations. I think it’s terrific for Schuyler Hospital to be involved with Cayuga Medical Center—the accessibility is great. When you’re in a rural area like we are, some people assume that all that’s available is rural medicine,” he adds, “but at Cayuga Medical Center everything is new, state of the art, and right at your fingertips. And when our patients need access to large interdisciplinary medical centers, we have it through their established relationships with places like Roswell Park Cancer Institute and University of Rochester Medical Center. It’s exciting!”