Mon General Hospital in Morgantown unveiled its newly expanded and remodeled Hazel Ruby McQuain Birth Center on Thursday, April 4.
"If we can just get children started with a health start," said West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who, along with hospital spokesperson and former Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton and local and hospital officials, was on hand for an open house celebrating the new center.
"Sometimes it begins right here, with the technology they have, the commitment they're making to giving our children a good start in life. I think is something special," Manchin said.
Mon General first opened its birthing center in 1999 with a $500,000 donation from the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust.
That center has been active, delivering more babies all the time, said Mon Health System President and CEO Darryl Duncan at the open house: twice as many in 2012 as in 2004, and more growth to come.
The hospital outgrew its eight birthing suites and had to transfer mothers to smaller post-partum rooms after delivery during busy periods. Staff longed for a dedicated C-Section operating room so they wouldn't have to shuttle moms by elevator to surgery during emergencies. And new technology had made tighter security possible.
In the new center, "everything we asked for, we got," said Mon General pediatric physician Lisa Wood with satisfaction. "Everything just flows a little bit more smoothly."
The new Birth Center features 16 spacious labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum, or LDRP, birthing suites in which a woman having a routine labor and delivery remains in the same room throughout her stay, along with her newborn.
Each birthing suite is decorated in a contemporary style, with a bedroom-like atmosphere and hardwood floors. Wooden cabinets and wall paintings, with medical supplies hidden, contribute to the home-like décor. Each suite has a place for the father or another family member to spend the night.
The new Birth Center houses a dedicated C-section operating suite to handle unplanned and emergency C-section births.
"Even with incredible increases in national pre-natal and obstetric care, 35 percent of all births at Mon General involve C-section deliveries," Duncan said. Now, a rush to surgery elsewhere in the hospital will be unnecessary. "By avoiding ‘hand-offs' between departments, we increase patient safety and cost efficiency while minimizing patient risk."
The renovation and expansion also focused on the security of new mothers and their babies. The Birth Center will be a locked unit, with all doors to the center kept locked. Visitors will have to be "buzzed in" at the door by Birth Center staff.
The unit will reopen to patients in late April.
The Birth Center renovation and expansion was done through a certificate of need approved by the West Virginia Health Care Authority. Total cost of the project was about $6 million; Paradigm Architecture of Morgantown designed the space and Marks Landau Construction of Bridgeport was the general contractor.
Mon General has invested $130 million in additions and updates over the past six years, according to Duncan.
McQuain Trust trustee Stephen Farmer expressed the hope that Mon General and West Virginia University's nearby Ruby Memorial hospitals, which have clashed in recent years over services and market share, can continue to work together in the future "to provide the best health care that can be provided to the community."