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NEWLY RENOVATED: RN Alecia Clark works at the nurses’ station in the newly renovated Birthing Center at Mecosta County Medical Center. The second phase of the project is expected to be completed this winter. (Pioneer photos/Jonathan Eppley)

Major construction finished at Birthing Center, Phase II expected to be completed by mid-winter

BIG RAPIDS — Mecosta County Medical Center wants to make giving birth a soothing experience for families, while increasing efficiency throughout the delivery process.

An $800,000 project to renovate the hospital’s Birthing Center is allowing medical staff to provide care to more patients giving birth, and ensure that there is no wait to get into an exam room.

Renovations at the center include a second outpatient examination room, redesigned nurses’ station and enhanced information and security technology. The center’s nursery space was reduced to accommodate the additional exam room and new nurses’ station.

“The project came from a need to have more outpatient bed space,” said Tom Hogenson, MCMC public relations director. “We have a frequent number of outpatient examinations running up to the delivery. Before, we had one room room for that purpose and it wasn’t enough. We see about 700 births a year — or about two births a day — and if the exam room is busy when someone else comes in to deliver, what do you do? We don’t want to send them to the emergency room or some place inappropriate to deliver.”

The new two-bed outpatient exam room was constructed in the space that the former nurses’ station occupied. The new nurses’ station is located across the hall.

Because infants spend more time in the room with their mothers, the Birthing Center was able to reduce the size of its nursery to accommodate the new nurses’ station. About 11,000 babies have been born at the center since being constructed in 1995.

“The state standard in 1995 was to have a very large nursery,” Hogenson said. “In reality, medical practices have evolved to where the moms and babies are here for maybe 48 hours, and the baby spends most of its time with mom in her room. So we really didn’t need that huge nursery space anymore.”

The nurses’ station also provides a more “accessible” set up, Hogenson added. Its counters are about two feet lower than at the previous station, and it offers more space for the nurses and physicians to do paperwork.

SMALLER NURSERY: The nursery at the Birthing Center was reduced to accommodate for a new nurses’ station. The reduction was possible because infants spend more time in the room with their mothers,

“The nurses and physicians needed more space to do their documentation,” Hogenson said. “There’s also new electronics that are used to monitor patients, and fetal monitoring going on at all times.”

Technology improvements to the birthing center include increased infant security. Although the center has never had problems with infants being taken, Director Betsy Workman said it is a real possibility. Several security monitors are set up in the nurses’ station.

“We place a band on the babies and an alarm goes off if someone leaves the department without going through the proper security measures,” Workman said. “The bands are in place to prevent any baby leaving in an unacceptable manner.”

With major renovations at the Birthing Center completed, phase II of the redesign can begin. The second phase will update the decor in the eight delivery rooms — or the labor, delivery, recovery, postpartum (LDRP) rooms — which currently feature teal and pink wallpaper.

The rooms will be updated to match the color scheme of the renovated hallways and nurses’ station: light blue, white and tan. Completed renovations also feature dark wood paneling and small green and blue tiles at the nurses’ station, and wood floors in the hallway.

The second phase is expected to be completed this winter, Hogenson said.

“That stage will go a little slower because it’s going to be worked on by our staff instead of going through a contractor,” Hogenson said. “We’re going to do it room-by-room as we have time. We can’t do all those rooms at once because we have patients coming in on a daily basis.”

EXAM ROOM: A two-bed outpatient exam room was part of the Birthing Center’s $800,000 renovation. The room will help prevent patients having to wait to be examined prior to delivery.

The Mecosta County Medical Center Foundation has pledged $200,000 toward the project. Donations are being sought to offset the remainder of the total cost. Money raised through hospital fundraisers from 2010 and 2011 are going toward the project, Hogenson said.

“We have a lot of support and an excellent relationship with the community,” Hogenson said. “When things are orderly and attended to, it tells you something about the mentality of those who run the facility. Regardless of what the business or service is, you want to go to a place where it looks like they really care. … This will definitely accommodate families more.”

For more information about donating to the Birthing Center renovation, contact the hospital’s public relations office at (231) 592-4409.

Tom Hogenson, Mecosta County Medical Center public relations director, gives us a look at the Birthing Center renovations:

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Posted by Jonathan Eppley

Jonathan Eppley is news editor for the Pioneer. He designs and copy edits the Pioneer daily, and manages staff in the evening. Eppley joined the Pioneer staff in 2010. He can be reached at (231) 592-8357 or at jeppley@pioneergroup.com.

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