CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH BECK
What is Storks Nesting?
Storks Nesting is a program allowing pregnant women to go to Yongsan Army garrison in Seoul to wait for their baby to be born. Because the drive from Osan AB is at least an hour (without traffic), the Army hospital (121 Combat Support Hospital) wants to keep their pregnant patients close towards the end of their pregnancies. Most patients go to the Storks Nest at Dragon Hill Lodge (DHL) starting at 38 weeks.
Why would someone choose to Storks Nest over other local options?
If you are a command sponsored dependent with few complications, your only option is pretty much to deliver at Yongsan, unless you want to potentially incur out-of-pocket costs. The only exceptions that I know of are non-command sponsored dependents who cannot get in to be seen at Yongsan, or if you are a high risk pregnancy and you (or your baby) could need a higher level of care than what Yongsan can provide. Depending upon your condition (or the condition of the baby) the 121 Combat Support Hospital OB may decide to send you off post. I’ve had friends from Osan that have delivered off post due to advanced maternal age or other complications. I actually had a blood type incompatibility between myself and my baby, but it was a complication that the 121 could handle.
Is prenatal and on-base/military L&D care available for expecting mothers at Osan?
The Osan AB hospital doesn’t offer Labor & Delivery services. They have a Nurse Practitioner that can see patients with uncomplicated pregnancies up until 36 weeks. When I PCSd to Osan, I was in my second trimester and had already been identified for the blood type incompatibility. I met with the women’s health nurse that handles OB patients, and she sent my paperwork to the 121. The 121 CSH decided that I would do all of my OB care at Yongsan, so I had to travel to Seoul every few weeks for care.
Are all expecting mothers sent to do a Storks Nesting program when stationed at Osan, or just some? Who determines who does what?
Storks Nesting is completely optional, but highly recommended because of the distance you’d travel between Osan and Yongsan. I don’t know of anyone that was from Osan that delivered at Yongsan that did not Storks Nest, except for patients with scheduled c-sections or inductions. The OB at Yongsan will determine when they would like you to start your stay at the DHL. When you go to your 36 week appointment, they give you a signed document with your eligible dates for stay at the Dragon Hill at a reduced rate. The Dragon Hill gives Storks Nest patients a reduced rate for their stay (with the signed paperwork from OB), and your expenses are reimbursable through the government.
Some other information:
You can take your children with you to the DHL. The rooms there have a queen sized bed and a pull-out couch. There is a small fridge, sink, microwave and a few dishes in each room. They have a pool, playground, mini shoppette and a couple of restaurants there. I chose not to take my other kids with me because I was concerned about going into labor and having no one to help me with my kids. My husband stayed at Osan and continued working while I was Storks Nesting. If he had come to stay with me, he would’ve been charged his regular leave. My mother-in-law flew out to help my husband and me with our other children so my husband wouldn’t have to take leave to care for the kids, and so he could go to Yongsan when I needed him.
The DHL actually has a shuttle that will take you straight to the hospital when you are in labor. Because at Osan you can only have one car per family, I left my van at home with my husband. I was so worried about going into labor in the middle of the night and having to call a taxi, but all you have to do is call the front desk, tell them you are in labor and need help, and they will get you to the hospital.
The best thing about Storks Nesting at Yongsan for me was just resting up. With other little kids at home, it has been a few years since I’ve been able to sleep until whenever I wanted to. I also liked Itaewon and exploring the rest of Seoul. The subway has a stop within walking distance from the DHL gate (Noksapyong) that I used frequently to get around. Although the closer I got to my due date, the closer I stayed to Yongsan.