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New facility for labor and delivery designed with patients in mind

$34-million L&D tower on track for May opening

Columbus — The May opening of a 151-room, $34-million tower at the Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle brings a new level of comfort to the facility and makes it possible for family members to take part in the recovery process 24 hours a day.

In the 167,000-square-foot tower, which will house the hospital’s labor and delivery services, the patient rooms are nearly three times larger than the old patient rooms.

The new addition “gives the feeling that you’re in a hotel, not a hospital,” according to Jason Little, the administrator and CEO.

The recovery rooms are ‘expansive” so that new-born babies and their families can spend the night together. “This encourages the bonding process to begin as soon as possible,” Little said.

He cited a trend in hospitals away from fixed visiting hours to a policy that allows families to spend as much time as possible with their loved ones. He added that the family is “an important part of the healing process, and the new tower is geared toward that philosophy.”

Little emphasized that even a very short hospital stay can be “very important to building the future.”

In addition to providing labor and delivery services, Baptist-Golden Triangle offers services for new mothers both before and after their babies are born. Childbirth and sibling classes prepare the entire family for the new baby, and care continues after mothers and their babies leave the hospital. The hospital maintains a 24-hour baby hotline for new parents who have questions about the health and welfare of their babies.

Inman of Memphis is the primary contractor for the project. The major subcontractors are Woodall Electric of Meridian and Upchurch of Greenwood.

Other services for women include diagnostic testing, advanced cancer detection equipment, digital mammography, stereotactic breast biopsies and PET scanning. Breast and gynecological ultrasounds as well as bone density scans can help detect many diseases, sometimes in very early stages.
Opening the tower will make possible other renovation in the two existing buildings on the hospital campus, according to Christina Brown, director of marketing and community relations.

“The former labor and delivery services area will be turned into offices and training rooms,” she said.

And business, accounting and marketing offices, now in the Willowbrook Behavioral Health Care Center on the campus, will move into the main building.

This will make possible the expansion of Willowbrook’s services and Little indicated that the hospital was now aggressively recruiting staff for the geriatric and psychiatric programs.

Since the rooms in the five-story tower are nearly three times larger than current rooms, they have armoires, six-foot, pull-out couches and other amenities. The tower also contains labor, delivery and recovery suites, a well-baby nursery and a newborn intensive care unit.

In addition to providing for more personalized patient contact, the tower features the latest in safety, convenience and comfort technology, Little said.

Making the investment

The hospital, which opened in 1969, joined the Baptist Memorial Health Care System in 1993. It has 328 beds and is Baptist’s largest regional hospital. More than 100 doctors and surgeons practice at the hospital, which is one of the largest in the state and is a Level II trauma center.

When the Baptist Health Care System signed a 35-year lease with Lowndes County in 1993, the lease included a requirement that required a minimum investment of $40 million. Construction of the $34-million tower brings the investment to $110 million in 12 years.

In 1998, the hospital completed a $44-million construction and renovation project that included a new emergency room and critical care unit, the Baptist Outpatient Pavilion and the Baptist Cancer Institute.

Little said that room rates would not increase, despite the new facilities, because the tower was paid for “in part by bond financing and in part by corporate revenues.”

Technology throughout the hospital

The state-of-the-art technology in the tower is part of a plan to computerize the whole hospital. This will increase both efficiency and security, and more efficiency means that doctors, nurses and technicians have more one-on-one time for patients, Little said.

Included in the technology is an automated prescription delivery and tracking system, an infant security system and an integrated communications network that replaces the old nurse-call system with one that tracks nurses and other personnel throughout the hospital and allows them to contact patients directly from wherever they are.

In 2004, there were 899 births at the hospital. Some 56,000 outpatients were treated, 47,800 people were admitted to the emergency room and 7,842 inpatients were discharged.
Other departments of the hospital include the Outpatient Pavilion, which features radiographic and fluoroscopic suites, pre-admission tests and outpatient surgery; the Center for Cancer Care, which provides complete cancer services, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy; a broad range of cardiology services, from complete diagnostic services to open heart surgery and behavioral healthcare, which provides such multidisciplinary care as adult psychiatric inpatient services for people with behavioral and mental health problems and evaluations and assessments for alcohol and drug-related problems.

Contact MBJ contributing writer at George McNeill at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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