Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Future SMH Labor and Delivery Rooms

Yesterday, I took a tour of the model Labor & Delivery and NICU rooms for the new replacement patient bed tower at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. This project is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2012. Taking me through the rooms were Debra Boterf, R.N., Business Manager for Women's and Children's Services, and Sheree Davidson, who is guiding tours for the public through next week.

First, we visited a model NICU unit. The privacy of the rooms and inclusion of family space is an improvement over the current unit, and it seems this allows for more personal interaction with the babies, from both the families and the nursing staff. I asked about the possibility of parents sleeping in the rooms with their infants, and I was assured there would be ample room for cots and privacy.
Next, we visited a model Labor & Delivery room. All Labor & Delivery rooms will have couches and seating for family members. The infant warmers are right near the doors, Debra explained, so that the mothers could see their babies from their beds. This was modeled after the Labor & Delivery Unit at Tampa General Hospital. I suspect this decision was actually driven by a need for efficiency by the hospital staff.
The Labor & Delivery room I saw is a 'normal' room, but there will also be three 'low-risk rooms' included in the expansion, which Debra pointed out on the floor plan. These low-risk rooms will include Jacuzzi tubs, wide hallways for increased mobility with intermittent fetal monitoring, and an adjacent family lounge. This is a very big step in a positive direction. I commend Sarasota Memorial wholeheartedly for creating an environment of support for movement during labor, alternative pain relief (water), and space for doulas, friends and families.
The current building that houses Labor & Delivery, the Mother Baby Unit, and the NICU is over fifty years old, and has seen several expansions. These expansions have resulted in a piecemeal situation where the rooms differ from one to the next, making the job of the nursing staff more difficult than necessary. During the schematic design phase for the new replacement tower, the staff nurses were consulted and had integral design input. The result of this input is what looks like a huge improvement in efficiency. For example, there will be nursing stations between every two NICU beds, and all obstetric units will be on adjacent floors with private connecting elevators.

If this increased efficiency translates to increased continuity of care, low nurse to patient ratios, and genuine support of non-interventive normal birth, perhaps we will also see a much-needed decline in Sarasota Memorial Hospital's c-section and induction rates.

If you would like to tour these rooms, please call Sheree Davidson at 917-9000, extension 1804 or email her at to make your appointment. Tours will only be available for another week or so, as the building which houses the mock rooms is being torn down October 15th to allow the construction of the new tower to begin.

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