Physicians Share Life Lessons On a Unique Mother’s Day

Even as we practice social distancing, perhaps the slower pace of recent weeks has allowed us to focus on loved ones: more time at home together, or more compelling cause to check in on family members.

At the heart of many families is Mom—the one whose role has always involved superhero tasks, like prepping dinner to please every palate, nurturing the emotional needs of everyone in the family, and knowing what it takes to bring everybody together—these days, even on Zoom. HGTV host Joanna Gaines said in a recent interview that being isolated at home with five kids “means we can still have a big family dinner, even under quarantine.” Many moms have that gift for transforming life’s challenges into something meaningful.

Especially during the current COVID-19 circumstances, it’s important to remember that as the source of the family’s comfort, moms need support too. “Everything is different right now, especially the transition to motherhood,” says Dr. Steven Koch, MD, obstetrician/gynecologist at Penn Highlands Women’s Care in St. Marys. “Those classic social supports just aren’t there.”

Penn Highlands Life’s Journey practice manager, Cheri Miknis, adds, “As women, none of us are used to doing any of these types of things alone.”

Dr. Kelly Snyder, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Penn Highlands Life’s Journey, says she, Miknis and their team have made special efforts to understand the needs of patients, including mothers, even given social distancing precautions. “We’re letting them know that all of us are here to support them,” Snyder says. “Even though they may not have their usual companion present, we’ll do our best to get them through it.” Koch added that many new moms are using telemedicine to update their doctors and video chats or texts to stay connected with loved ones, but Miknis noted that more than ever, healthcare practices are seeing proof that some heartaches related to motherhood can only be addressed with genuine compassion. “I think the hardest thing is when we have women coming in who have lost a baby,” she said, and Snyder added: “How do you cope with not having all the support you need during one of the most important times of your life?”

As they care for patients throughout each tender stage of life, Snyder mentions that this pandemic offers new insights and teachable moments to moms—even her. “My daughter asked me recently, ‘Mom, aren’t you afraid of getting COVID?’ It opened my eyes to how scared she is, and I saw it as a chance to talk with her about being altruistic. I explained that I’ve chosen this profession because of my desire to help people—but I told her ‘Listen, you can help people no matter what you do. Everywhere you go, there are people who are helping people.’

In the spirit of Mother’s Day, we encourage all women to take care of themselves by ensuring their routine wellness visits are scheduled, including pap smears and mammograms. Patients can also see their providers using the Penn Highlands MyHealthNow app on their smartphone, tablet or computer.

Penn Highlands Women’s Care and Penn Highlands Life’s Journey happily serve the women and mothers in our area throughout their lifespan, including contraception, infertility, pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum, incontinence and menopause care, with the belief that every woman is entitled to quality care close to home. To learn more, visit

To send an e-card to any mom, grandmother or loved one who is a patient at a Penn Highlands Healthcare hospital or a resident of Penn Highlands Elk Pinecrest Manor of Penn Highlands Jefferson Manor, visit