A pregnant woman whos treated at Sacred Heart Medical Center currently might have to traverse the length and breadth of the hospitals sprawling South Hill complex to receive all the services she needs.
That wont be the case when Sacred Hearts new Womens Health Center opens in September, says Sherry Maughan, director of womens health programs for the hospital.
That 22,000-square-foot spacetwo floors of the seven-floor, $100 million west tower addition thats still under constructionwas designed with the goal of bringing under one roof all of Sacred Hearts inpatient and outpatient womens services, complete with its own entrance, Maughan says.
The other main goal of the project was to expand those services, she adds.
Spokanes population is aging, and womens health care is about more than pregnancy and childbirth, Maughan says. Sacred Heart officials believed there was an unmet need out there in terms of womens health services.
Most of the new services that will be offered through the Womens Health Center already have been launched, such as Heart to Heart, a program to inform women about cardiac health, and other educational programs on topics ranging from Pilates exercise to incontinence, she says.
Our goal was to make sure we didnt move into the building and have to build programs to fill it, Maughan says.
Still, the center will include some new features, such as a clinical retail shop that sells products such as nursing bras and breast pumps, a lounge area for antepartum patientsexpectant mothers who must stay in the hospital, sometimes for weeks on endand more obstetrics beds than Sacred Heart now has.
The Womens Center also will have a nontraditional look, with interiors designed by Seattle-based Mahlum Architects, the project architect, Maughan says. Both floorsthe main-floor outpatient center and the second-floor inpatient facilitywill feature lots of curved walls and colors found in nature, she says.
Hospitals are really square, but we worked with the architect to do rounded, softened features, she says.
Labor and delivery beds face the windows, and sit at an angle to the walls of the rooms, she says.
The womens center will include 15 labor-and-delivery rooms, 21 postpartum rooms, 12 antepartum roomstwo of which could be used for delivery if an expectant mother in that area goes into laborand two Caesarean section surgical suites.
There will be a labor triage center, which will function almost as an emergency room for pregnant women who think they might be in labor, Maughan says. Those patients can be monitored in the triage area and admitted to the hospital if they are in labor, or sent home otherwise, she says.
On the outpatient floor, there also will be classrooms, a resource library with Internet access, a meditation room with a chaplains office, and a gift shop targeted toward new mothers. Programs that currently are located outside the main hospital also will move there, such as a 24-hour Helplinewhich was launched 15 years ago to answer questions from new moms, but has been expanded to include all womens health issueslactation services, and a maternity clinic for underinsured or uninsured pregnant women.
Maughan says an important aspect of the new Womens Health Center is that much of the space will be flexible, to accommodate changes in technology and the changing needs of the community.
We put a lot of thought into not what we need today, but what we need in the future, she says.
Another important change is that the new center will be linked by an exclusive elevator to a vastly expanded neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) one floor up, Maughan says.
Babies frequently need to be transported quickly from birthing rooms to NICU, and by having an elevator central to labor and delivery, its quicker than having (NICU) at the other end of a floor, she says.
Mike Wilson, president of Sacred Heart, says the ability to expand NICU was another primary motivation in constructing the West Tower. The hospitals current NICU is woefully inadequate in size, he says, and frequently overflows to other areas of the hospital.
Once the new 3rd-floor NICU is open, it will connect via skywalk to pediatrics services in the main hospital and on to the Childrens Hospital to the east, he adds.
Combined with the link to the obstetrics unit, Wilson says, We will probably have one of the most, if not the most well integrated neonate programs there is anywhere, between neonatology, the Childrens Hospital, and womens services.
Besides womens services and NICU, the seven-floor West Tower expansion also will include a new surgery center that will serve the entire hospital, a processing plant that will sterilize instruments for surgery, and a floor that will remain empty for now, ready for future growth. The tower has almost 250,000 square feet of space.
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