Delivering More Comfort
Baptist Medical Center East adds 26 postpartum rooms
By David Zaslawsky
Photography by Robert Fouts
Baptist Medical Center East is one of the busiest in the state for births, ranking fifth in 2013 and just 36 births away from being No. 4.
Now, the Montgomery facility will have the beds to move up the ladder. “It would not surprise me for us to get close to 4,000,” Baptist Medical Center East CEO Jeff Rains said about the number of births in the near future. He is forecasting close to 3,500 births this year. To keep up with the growing demand, Baptist is adding 26 postpartum (after-delivery) rooms as part of a $5.5 million renovation mostly for women’s services. There will also be an intensive care step-down unit. The two-story project is adding 20,000 square feet and is expected to be completed by November.
“OB/women’s services are a major service line for Baptist Medical Center East,” Rains said. “We are by far the largest provider for that service in Central Alabama. It is a big part of not only what we do; it obviously is a big part of our revenue and our income stream.”
“There is a continued demand. We continue to see growth from not only the Montgomery area, but from outlying areas where moms want to come and have their newborn here in our facility. We’re very fortunate to be able to step up and meet that demand for the community.”
He said the medical center delivers about 10 newborns a day. “That volume has continued to increase because of the medical staff that is here; the facility; and obviously the quality outcomes,” Rains said. “We think that will continue to grow in the future, especially as smaller hospitals struggle to provide OB (obstetrics) services in rural communities.”
The 26 new postpartum rooms will be about twice the size of the existing 27 postpartum rooms, Rains said. The new rooms will average about 240 square feet. “The existing rooms that we have in postpartum is our largest area of opportunity for improvement in our women’s and children’s services,” Rains said. “Those rooms when they were built in 1978 were not built for that service line. These were small, individual private rooms that really weren’t designed or configured for layout or size or amenities for postpartum utilization.”
He said that new rooms being designed are fully functional with much more space for family members and more convenience “for mom and dad and their newborn,” Rains said.
“We spent a lot of time designing lighting,” Rains said. “We spent a lot of time designing furniture and furniture layouts as it relates to the bassinette.” He said everything in that space “will be completely new.”There is a sofa bed for dad, but it features popup trays to have a meal or place an iPod. “Everyone needs to be comfortable,” Rains said. Each room is equipped with a flat-panel LCD television and has data ports for electronic devices.
Paula Brennan, director of women’s services at Baptist Medical Center East, said in a statement: “This addition to our hospital will not only enhance the patient’s delivery experience, but also better meets the needs of our patients and families.”
Rains said the goal is to make the experience “as much like a hotel as you can” while following the rules and regulations. “This is a very important part and many might say ‘the warm and fuzzy part of health care is having a child.’ It’s probably the one service line that we provide in our industry that our customers look forward to. After the intensity of the delivery process, we really want to focus on that next step. That next step is not only providing comfort and convenience for mom and for dad and for families to come and visit that newborn and that loved one. It gives us an opportunity to really focus on the areas of education; skin-to-skin breastfeeding; any other type of education that you might have – really providing that environment so that mom is now comfortable going forward and taking that baby home and raising them in a very safe and healthy manner.”
There will be two waiting areas at opposite ends of the new unit, according to Rains. “It’s important to have alternate waiting areas that are not disruptive,” he said. “This is still a very important time for mom and baby to bond. We want to have enough room for families and community to relax while they’re taking turns visiting with the family.”
The facility’s women’s unit is in two sections, Rains said. There is a labor room for both natural births and C-sections. Then the mother moves to a postpartum room.
Rains said that because women make most of their family’s health care decisions, you hope that by giving birth at the facility the family will use other services at Baptist Medical Center East. “It’s an area where not only do you capture loyalty from early on, but then you have a pediatrician … If we can work with mom in ways that will please her and create a good, positive experience then hopefully we’ll be at the top of that list if we’re ever needed for another service down the road,” Rains said.