By MADOLINE MARKHAM
Clad with granite, marble and local artwork, the staff at Brookwood Medical Center liken the new women’s facility to a five-star hotel.
“I joke about how I want to come and spend a romantic weekend with my wife here before it opens,” said Brookwood OB/GYN Keehn Hosier. “It’s really like an upscale hotel.”
The six-floor, 121,000-square-foot women’s-only facility will open later this month.
“The biggest thing is that the new center will match the level of overall care the patients have been getting,” Hosier said. “Brookwood has the best women’s facilities I have ever been in, but it was time for a new facility.”
As the first women’s hospital in the state to open in 1988, the staff at Brookwood Women’s Center has designed the new center to continue to set the standard for “high tech women’s care in a high touch environment.” For the past four years the hospital sought the input of nurses, physicians, former patients and consultants for the plan, and they broke ground on construction in January 2010.
Homewood resident Meredith Colquit is looking forward to delivering her baby girl with Dr. Heidi Straughn in the new hospital in February.
“My sister, Shanon Keown, delivered all three of her boys in the old hospital,” she said, “and from everything I hear the new hospital will be just beautiful. I hear the birthing suites are supposed to be exceptional.”
A grand opening will be held Sun., Nov. 20, and patients will be moved in for care on Dec. 2.
“Some patients are saying they wished they had a later due date so they could have delivered in the new women’s center,” said Amy Beard, administrative director of women’s services, “and I tell them they can have another one.”
The new center also will open up additional space for patients in the main Brookwood hospital in the old women’s center facility.
New technologies include a wireless fetal monitoring that will enable mothers to walk around during labor. A noise control system in NICU will alarm doctors when the noise level could interfere with neurological development of the babies.
For expectant mothers interested in natural childbirth, the center will be the only hospital in the state with a suite dedicated to water birthing with a $25,000, FDA-approved water birthing tub.
“It almost looks like a high-end Jacuzzi,” Beard said.
Spacious mother and baby suites will be standard, whereas before families had to specially request and pay additional fees for the extra space. Each suite will include a sleeper sofa for the dad or support person as well as a dining-on-call room service, a flat-screen TV, DVD player and refrigerator. All bathrooms will feature a bidet.
Located on the fifth and sixth floors, floor-to-ceiling windows in each room will look out over Highway 31 with a view of Vulcan and Samford University.
With a well-baby nursery on each of the two floors of mother-baby rooms, moms and babies will never be separated by a floor.
Beard also pointed out facilities that will make the experience more comfortable for families. Waiting rooms will have waterfalls, the whole hospital is wireless, and there will be children’s play rooms. A family lounge area will feature a living area, rock fireplace, dining area and washer and dryer access.
Homewood resident Jeff Fowler and interior designer Laura Harchelroad of Evan Terry Associates designed the aesthetics for the new center.
The center will also house special rooms for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and other special uses. Single family rooms in the NICU will allow the family and baby to stay together at all times and prevent infections for the baby. The NICU will also feature two overnight care-by-parent rooms that will enable parents to prepare for a transition to home while the hospital staff is still readily accessible.
Rooms specially designed for multiples will allow a mom to stay with multiple children requiring intensive care in one room. A 12-bed high-risk perinatal unit will accommodate moms before delivery. Moms recovering from caesarian section will have private rooms for after the procedure.
Hosier said his patient base has picked up since Brookwood announced the opening of the building. The hospital will hire more staff for a larger patient capacity.
“We’ve seen mock ups and walked through the center,” Hosier said, “but like a kid the night before Christmas, we can’t wait for it to open so we can dive under the tree and open our presents.”
The nurses and physicians are currently completing clinical drills and getting oriented to the new technology in the facilities leading up to the grand opening.
As a part of grand opening festivities, Rosie Pope from the Bravo show “Pregnant in Heels” will be part of a “Finding Your Mommy Style” event at Workplay Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. On Nov. 18, Pope will host a “Bringing Home Baby: Surviving the first few weeks and beyond” class in the new women’s center; the class starts at 10 a.m. and tours will be available at 11 a.m. Anyone interested in these free events should register on http://www.GenB.com.
The Nov. 20 grand opening and ribbon cutting is also open to the public and starts at 1:30 p.m. Tours of the building will start at 2 p.m., and refreshments will be served.