Talk about the future.
If you're one of the lucky ones, South Bay Hospital will help your newborn baby go to college in 18 years or so.
Starting next month and continuing for a year, the Redondo Beach hospital--where more than 4,000 babies have been born since a maternity ward was opened two years ago--will give one newborn a month a scholarship that will be worth $10,000 on the child's 18th birthday.
The hospital would prefer that the babies greet the world at what they call their Family Birthing Center, but infants born at other hospitals also are eligible for the monthly drawings if their mothers visit South Bay Hospital and register within their first three months of pregnancy.
"We are very proud of our OB (obstetrics) here," said hospital spokeswoman Laura Porter. "The community has made us successful and we want to give something back." But she admits that marketing and public relations also have something to do with it: "We are bringing attention to the unit."
Scholarships will be in the form of bonds that the hospital will buy monthly for less than $2,000, Porter said. Accrued interest will make them worth $10,000 in 18 years. And youngsters get the money even if they don't go to college.
Porter estimated that the odds of winning the scholarships won't be bad: "Winning the Lottery is one in a million. This is one in 300."
Not to be outdone, some hospitals in the South Bay say they have other ways of stroking expectant parents.
At Centinela Hospital in Inglewood, they become members of the Champion Club, which offers a variety of benefits to patients. In the case of new parents, it's a candlelight lobster dinner after the baby's birth.
Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance has a counseling service for first-time parents, newsletters with general health care information and the Warm Line, which people may call for answers to questions after they take their new baby home.
Taking a different tack, Barbara Skala, associate director of operations at San Pedro Peninsula Hospital, said she's not sure that what South Bay Hospital is doing makes that much difference: "Consumers are more educated today. They are shopping around for hospitals and I'm not real sure that giving a bond a month is the answer in terms of drawing people. People are looking for more than that."
But one hospital official, confessing that her hospital has no gimmicks, just maternity beds, said that what South Bay Hospital is doing is "quite impressive. . . . But don't quote me."