1st baby born at Houston Methodist Hospital The Woodlands gets a special 5th birthday celebration

By: Sean K. Thompson
| Published 06/25/2022


THE WOODLANDS, TX – Party hats came out and string quartets tuned up at a special celebration at Houston Methodist Hospital The Woodlands. Hundreds showed up to wish the best and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to young Jaxon Neal, who was the first baby born at the hospital five years ago. Jaxon’s parents – Josh and Kristina Neal – were the hospital’s first patients when it had just opened its doors in June of 2017.

All the stops are pulled out for a special day of recollections and rowdiness

The party – which took place in (and filled up) the glamorous Sky Lobby – was a joint celebration for the fifth anniversary of the hospital and the rambunctious reminder of its origins in the guise of the energetic and delightful Jaxon.

After welcoming remarks from Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Debra Sukin, members of the original birthing team who helped bring Jaxon into the world were recognized. Birthday cake – a lot of birthday cake – cutting and gift-opening soon followed so Jaxon’s delight.

Dr. Sukin was thrilled to be leading the festivities. “We absolutely expected this amazing turnout,” she said. “The amount of enthusiasm for all of us as healthcare workers to be able to get together after a global pandemic, getting to celebrate each other and our accomplishments, has been more meaningful than it ever has been, particularly celebrating our five-year birthday.”

Since Jaxon’s arrival on that June day five years ago, more than 6,500 babies have been born at the hospital since. “It’s an incredible number,” said Sukin. “We joked about how our goal was to repopulate The Woodlands and beyond, and that’s exactly what we’re doing, and we want to continue to share our goodness with our region and really tell our story.”

According to Dr. Sukin, the huge turnout is indicative of Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital’s vision. “Whether we’re talking about our birthing center or we’re talking about any of our clinical programs, that vision is to be truly unparalleled in safety first, quality, service, and innovation. When we talk about that, it’s pulling together the premier medical staff to truly drive superior outcomes on all clinical programs. With that elevated aspect of patient service, always putting the patient at the heart of everything we do, being able to build buildings but more importantly being able to bring new innovations and technologies and advances in medicine, is exactly what we’re about doing.”

Kristina Neal, Jaxon’s mother who represented the parents – Josh, a United Airlines Pilot, was unable to make it due to being out of the country for the week – couldn’t say enough about her experience half a decade ago.

“Dr. Andrea Richter-Werning [currently serving as Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pediatrics at the hospital] was my OBGYN and she was moving over to this hospital as it prepared to open,” she said. “Jaxon’s due date just happened to be right at the same time the hospital was scheduled to open. So things happen for a reason.”

In Kristina’s words the care she received was phenomenal. “From the moment that we moved over here for our neonatal visits, everything was amazing. The care, professionalism, the cleanliness, the leadership here is just incredible. I remember taking a tour just prior to having Jaxon, and it was so awe-inspiring. The advanced medical practices that they had here were outstanding. When we walked in that day to have the C-section, I got tears in my eyes as I turned and looked at my husband with the realization that not only were having our baby, but that we’d be in good hands – although my husband joked that he hoped they remembered to order and deliver the towels to the brand new delivery room. Obviously nothing was forgotten.”

Dr. Sukin looks forward to more anniversaries, birthdays, and festivities at the hospital for years to come. “I hope Jaxon looks forward to celebrating his future birthdays not only with his family but this expanded family, and I can tell you he should feel that he’s a part of this Houston Methodist family. We started with 550 employees when we opened our doors, and today we’re well over 2,000.”

As Jaxon spent the rest of the party enjoying his gifts, his mother reveled in the oasis of the party and those who attended, several of them who were in the room with her when her son came into the world, “The staff was incredibly kind and nurturing, professional, caring, every kind word I can think of describes them.”

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