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Westside Watch

Hospital's Reopening Gives Birth to Unusual Contest

November 24, 1994

It will no doubt be years before Matthew Onda and Kassey Cordova understand the oddball contest that preceded their births in Santa Monica last month.

Their mothers, Michele Onda and Maria Cordova, were engaged in a maternal battle of the birthing room. Each mother-to-be wanted her baby to be the first one born in the newly reopened St. John's Hospital & Health Center, which had been closed for earthquake repairs as long as the babies had been in gestation--nine months.

To encourage their babies to cooperate, the moms-to-be turned to their respective obstetricians, David Edwards and Gene Parks.

The race was on.

Onda took the lead early, when Edwards set up a Cesarean section appointment for noon, Oct. 3, the hospital's post-quake opening day.

But then Cordova, who needed to have her labor induced for medical reasons, arranged to come in as soon as the hospital opened--5 a.m. Parks said he figured that Cordova, who was having her second child, could deliver before Edwards' C-section.

Another obstetrician, Sam Alexander--who insists he wasn't participating in the contest--complicated matters when he scheduled a C-section for 10 a.m.

This last-minute schedule change prompted Onda to ask for an earlier C-section time--8 a.m. Using a little professional persuasion, Edwards got the pediatrician and the anesthesiologist to come in earlier. Shortly before 10 a.m., Matthew Onda crossed the finish line first--at 8 pounds, 8 ounces.

The Cordova baby, a girl, finished in second place that afternoon. The other C-section appointment was canceled.

The winner of the strange contest says it "took the edge off" her surgical procedure. Said Onda: "It added a lot of fun to it, and excitement."

*

PRICEY PATROL: Crime fighting is often downright dull for the police officers who cruise the tame streets of Beverly Hills. But don't tell that to the two men who spent big bucks to purchase ride-alongs with Beverly Hills Police Chief Marvin Iannone.

The occasion was the Police Department's Black and White Ball and auction, Nov. 9. The jeweled crowd of Beverly Hills residents was in a feisty mood after spending $250 each on the dinner-dance, so no one thought it extravagant when an evening with singer Michael Feinstein sold for $10,000.

The final item, the ride-along with the chief, started at a modest price but just kept climbing, as two tuxedoed gentlemen vied for the honor of patrolling with the top brass. When the bidding stalled at $6,000, the chief generously offered to sell each bidder a ride-along for the bargain price of $5,500 each.

After the applause for the $11,000 deal died down, one amazed Beverly Hills police officer was overheard saying, "He'll have to take them into L.A. to get their money's worth."

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