New Women’s Health Center has spa atmosphere

New Women’s Health Center has spa atmosphere

Stewart, Marc

Many of the design features, services, and programs at Sacred Heart Medical Center’s new Women’s Health Center seem more like something one would find at a luxury day spa instead of a hospital.

Patients have responded well to the aesthetics at the center, which opened last fall, says director Sherry Maughan. The labor and delivery unit has been bustling with activity lately, and the hospital projects a record year for deliveries of babies in 2005, Maughan says.

“In March, we had 230 deliveries, which is the largest volume of deliveries since April 1991,” Maughan says. “We’re very busy.”

Curved walls, wooden floors, soft lighting, earth tones, and decorative touches give the Women’s Heath Center a different atmosphere than that in most hospitals across the country, Maughan asserts.

“The designers wanted a hospital that would be sleek and sophisticated, like something you would find in New York, ” she says. “We said ‘Wait a second, we’re in Spokane, Washington. Spokane is about nature and being natural.’ We think it’s very feminine and calming here.”

Special deliveries

The Women’s Health Center occupies about 52,000 square feet of floor space on two floors of the hospital’s $100 million west tower, and is a $21 million piece of that project, Maughan says.

The west tower’s second floor houses The Birth Place, the hospital’s maternity unit. The unit includes 15 labor-delivery rooms, 21 postpartum patient-rooms, a 12-bed ante-partum unit for high-risk pregnancies, and two Cesarean-section surgery suites.

The new labor-delivery rooms are spacious and designed to hide, as much as possible, medical equipment, and to have a hotel feel. The rooms have an area for family members to rest and relax. They include day beds, refrigerators, TVs, DVD players, and audio equipment.

“We wanted to make the Birth Place feel spacious and open,” Maughan says. “If every unit was full, you would never know it because the design keeps the clutter and noise spread out.”

The third floor of the west tower houses a 47-bed neonatal intensive care unit, which replaced the former 16-bed unit the hospital had. The new neonatal ICU has been redesigned to provide more comfort and privacy, with bigger rooms and more comfortable furniture than the old NICU.

The hospital plans to hire two specialists later this summer to handle high-risk pregnancies. it currently contracts with two physicians to do the job.

The hospital’s Maternity Clinic, which is separate from the Birth Place, but is part of the Women’s Health Center, serves between 150 and 200 patients a month, Maughan says. It caters mostly to pregnant low-income women.

“Most of the women who come to the Maternity Clinic don’t have a lot of resources or insurance,” she says.

The clinic has two physicians and a cadre of support staff that provide pre-natal care. It also helps low-income individuals find federal and state resources for medical care, food, and housing, says Brenda Covert, the Women’s Health Center coordinator.

Promoting wellness

Though an area on the second floor of the west tower called the Wellness Place is dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of ailments in men and children, as well as women, it’s still a part of the Women’s Health Center, Maughan says. The Wellness Place performs basic tests and assessments for a number of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It also offers osteoporosis screenings.

One program, Heart-to-Heart, includes tests to check glucose and cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and body mass. Nurses explain to patients what the test results mean and how to reduce the risks of those conditions. The hospital also offers nutritional counseling, exercise, and educational forums for men and women.

In addition, a massage therapist is available in the Wellness Place to treat patients who are recovering from injuries, and a small library near the Wellness Place’s waiting room contains resource materials and computers that patients can use to access the Internet to find medical information.

Striving to improve the appearance and self-esteem of female cancer patients is the primary objective of Toni Marie’s, a small program located in the Women’s Health Center.

Toni Marie’s, named after the late Toni Marie Robideaux, a longtime Spokane advertising executive, doesn’t do counseling. Rather, it deals with surface psychological and physical impacts of cancer by referring patients to support groups and helping them address problems associated with the loss of hair and the blotching of skin, both side effects of chemotherapy.

Journeys Boutique, a retail store near Toni Marie’s, specializes in items for pregnant women, newborns, and cancer patients. The store sells breast-feeding supplies, skin and hair products, and clothes, hats, and scarves.

Popular services and programs

About 120 people work in the Women’s Health Center, which Maughan says offers a wide breath of services and programs intended for men, women, and their families.

“Maybe we should have called it the Family Health Center,” she says. “We are seeing more couples coming in and having their screenings together.” The Women’s Health Center operates a 24-hour phone line that is staffed by health-care professionals. The line receives roughly 11,000 calls a year from Inland Northwest residents with medical questions, including concerns ranging from breast feeding to the common cold. The volume of calls has about doubled over the last year, the hospital says.

Many new mothers call when their babies have a fever; they want to know if they should bring the child into the emergency room, Covert says.

The center also offers free public health forums on a myriad of topics, including osteoporosis, incontinence, and heart disease.

The Women’s Health Center operates a mobile clinic that can go to businesses, community and retirement centers, and rural areas. Health-care providers can perform mammograms and osteoporosis screenings in the mobile clinic.

Copyright Northwest Business Press Inc. Apr 21, 2005

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