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Remodeled birthing center at Mercy places comfort above all else

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GINA R. HEINE
October 24, 2007
— Lori and Eric Wimer of Janesville had their first two children, Kayla and Bryce, delivered at Mercy Hospital.

That was before a $3.5 million renovation of the New Generations Birthing Center.


Before bigger labor rooms and large, private bathrooms. Before technology that allows doctors to remotely monitor mom and baby. Before flat-screen TVs and couches for dad.


Now the mother of 3-week-old Ellie has rave reviews of the renovation.


“Our first reaction when we got up there is, ‘Wow, this is really nice. They really did a lot of changes,’ ” Lori said.


The biggest change they noticed was the size of the delivery rooms—about twice as big as before. The décor offers a contemporary, homey feel, she said.


“It’s comfortable and everybody just seems to really enjoy the extra space, especially in labor and delivery,” department director Sally Johnson said.


The renovation project started in April 2006 and was completed in phases to keep the department operational. The department expanded by 4,500 square feet, gaining space from the surgical department, and went from eight postpartum rooms to 12 while expanding the six labor rooms.


The desire to be able to do Caesarean sections in the department sparked the project, Johnson said. The department could do emergency procedures, but nearly all C-sections were sent down to the first-floor operating room. Fathers weren’t allowed to be with the mother during recovery, and the baby was brought to the second floor.


Now the department features a full operating room to deliver nearly all C-sections, and the family can stay together.


“That’s probably the best thing that we did,” said Johnson, a 29-year veteran of the department.


The renovations included $1.5 million on new technologies, medical equipment and additional staffing.


New technology includes the use of a central monitoring system, which allows obstetricians to monitor mom and baby from down the hall, their office, home or anywhere with Internet access.


Spotlights no longer need to be wheeled in for delivery, as the labor rooms are equipped with special lighting in the ceiling.


From wood floors to couches to more space, the décor makes everything more relaxed, Johnson said. The department, which delivers about 1,200 babies a year, has received positive feedback from parents since it opened this summer, she said.


“It’s just pleasant,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like a hospital.”


While Lori and Eric knew what to expect going into the birth of their third child, the environment made the experience even more relaxed, she said.


“It made for a very comfortable atmosphere and a comfortable delivery,” she said.


“As comfortable as comfortable can be.”


RENOVATION HIGHLIGHTS

-- Double the space in labor rooms. Each of the six labor rooms now includes a couch, rocker and a big chair. Before, two labor rooms shared a toilet. Now each labor room has a large bathroom with a bathtub.


-- Four additional postpartum rooms.


-- A new operating room to perform nearly all Caesarean sections and a recovery room.


-- Contemporary, homey décor.


-- Larger waiting room.


-- New wood cribs replace old metal ones.


-- Guests were limited to two people because of the small rooms. Now more visitors are allowed during labor and the delivery.


-- Labor room equipment including the central monitoring system and the infant resuscitation unit built into the cabinets.


-- An additional nurses station and about six new staff members includig clerical, environmental services and operating room staff.


IF YOU GO

Mercy Hospital will host an open house for the newly remodeled New Generations Birthing Center from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 3, on the third floor of the hospital, 1000 Mineral Point Ave., Janesville.


The event will include tours with hospital maternity staff, refreshments, kid and family activities, chair massages and door prizes.


The event is open to the public. Mothers who have given birth at Mercy and also new mothers-to-be are encouraged to attend. No registration is necessary.


For more information on the event, call Mercy HealthLine at (608) 756-6100.



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