Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital in Denver held an open house July 8 to preview its new labor and delivery center, which is scheduled to open officially August 5. The new unit, officially named the E. Atwill Gilman Center for Maternal-Child Health, but known as "The Baby Place," was designed using ideas from hospitals around the country as well as the patients, staff and physicians at Saint Joseph’s.
Although the hospital incorporated ideas from 24 of the leading obstetric units in the country, the hospital also improved on some ideas and raised the bar on the different amenities that can be found in this type of unit. The results of the effort, which took more than two years from start to finish, resulted in a high tech, high touch unit that includes things only found at Saint Joseph’s. One of the biggest changes made through the development of this unit was a swing room.
The swing room is a room that is used for high-risk deliveries. The room itself is a delivery room that instantly can be transformed into an operating room should the need arise. "This is going to be a great thing to have," said Renee Ebel, who has been the night shift coordinator on the labor and delivery floor for 14 years and was among those who traveled to various hospitals throughout the country to view their obstetric units. "This takes care of both regular and high-risk pregnancies. This unit is the nicest thing Saint Joe’s has done putting a unit together."
The new unit cost $8.6 million and includes 14 labor and delivery rooms with Jacuzzis and built-in heated newborn bassinets. The theme of the new 22,000-square-foot unit is Colorado-lodge, which features original artwork by Colorado artists throughout the unit, wood floors, fireplaces, arched doorways, natural maple trim, sconces, leaves on the ceiling tiles, soft lighting and private bathrooms.
In addition to the close attention to detail inside the unit, the hospital also added a special entrance off of 18th Avenue with a convenient drop-off and short-term parking lot exclusively for labor and delivery patients and physicians. The entrance includes easy access to an elevator that takes patients directly to the labor and delivery unit. There also is a child play area, oversized lounges for both patients and physicians with dining areas and big-screen televisions. The physician’s lounge includes a central fetal monitoring system, and physicians also will benefit from an OB Link system that will enable them to view the progress of their laboring patients at the physician’s home or in their offices.
"This has been a great morale booster for the floor," said Cheri Hulsey, a nurse on the labor and delivery floor. "It’s really brought the floor together again – we take a lot of pride in our floor."
According to Holly Fedak, director of Woman’s and Children’s Services at Saint Joseph’s, some of the most important things they learned from traveling to other hospitals was what not to do. "We would go to places and they would say ‘whatever you do, don’t do this,’" she said. "Things like that are really helpful when designing a new unit."
Although the turnover rate in the hospital’s labor and delivery unit is only about 2.5 percent, Fedak also hopes this new unit will help with recruitment and retention. Of the more than two years it took to get the unit to where it is today, Fedak said it has been "a labor of love."