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Birthing Center opens new rooms

January 18, 1999

Birthing centerBy SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




While others were touring the expanded Washington County Hospital's Family Birthing Center on Sunday, Kelly McDermott was getting a more up-close look at one of the center's new rooms.

McDermott, 24, had her first baby, Cody Ryan, in one of the new rooms at 10:04 p.m. on Saturday.

While impressed with the center's rooms, she said she wasn't surprised by the quality since she went on a tour of the center a month ago.

She liked the spacious rooms, she said. "They are very nice."

The expansion increased the number of private birthing rooms from 12 to 18. The all-inclusive rooms can be used for labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum services.

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The number of private rooms with no birthing equipment grew from four to nine. The private rooms are for women who may need extra bed rest or for Caesarean patients.

With both types of rooms, the patient does not have to switch rooms in order to give birth, which McDermott said she appreciated.

Unlike in some hospitals, babies at the center can sleep in the same room as their mothers.

"Her baby is her roommate," Deborah L. Malick, nurse manager, said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sunday for the expansion.

Each room also has either a long, flat couch or a roll-away bed on which the baby's father can sleep, which makes it easier for the family to have private time together, said Jody Bishop, nursing clinical coordinator.

The rooms have fetal monitors, a warming bed for the babies, a television and a bathroom with a shower stall, toilet and sink, among other amenities.

The patients and their families love the rooms and the arrangements, Bishop said.

Typical comments from patients praise the rooms as "beautiful" and "very comfortable," Bishop said.

During the ceremony, Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said the center is a good example of why the hospital is considered one of the 100 best in the nation in cost-efficiency and quality of medical care.

The expansion was partially sparked by new state and federal legislation.

In response to complaints from patients, Donoghue introduced legislation increasing the amount of time from 24 to 48 hours that insurance companies had to cover a woman's hospital stay after vaginal childbirth, Malick said. Women who have Caesarean sections now can stay up to 72 hours.

The law took effect July 1, 1996. A similar law was adopted nationally in 1997.

As a result, patients started staying longer after delivering, which created a problem: the need for more space. Mothers sometimes had to be moved to other rooms or share space with one another.

With the resulting expansion, patients are happy and the center employees now feel they can provide quality care, Malick said.

There are about 1,700 deliveries a year at the hospital, or an average of about six a day, Bishop said. The center opened in 1989. The center expansion began in January 1998.

The hospital provides public tours of the center every Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

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