By Josh Moniz
NEW ULM - The New Ulm Medical Center is planning a massive overhaul of its birth center to create new, expansive facilities for taking care of families during births.
The $1.2 million dollar project will restructure NUMC's existing four-room space to six rooms. A new electronic security system will regulate access to the ward and doors, along with tracking newborns through an electronic tab that can be attached to their clothes. The elements are designed to provide the maximum safety possible for both mothers and newborns. The waiting room will be expanded to accommodate the families of the new mothers. Amenities like a kitchenette and sleeping chairs will be added to provide for the needs of waiting family members. Similarly, doctors and nurses will get some amenities of their own with the new layout, such as a new sleep room for long shifts. The nursery and the nurse station for the birth center will be redesigned to place them close together. The new design will provide nurses the space they have been needing to execute their duties, while also providing an additional source of eyes to watch over the nursery. Finally, the new layout of the rooms will be fitted with new, stylish furniture to improve the overall look of the birth center.
Several storage rooms and a locker room will be eliminated to create the new center's layout, but hospital operations will not see any significant changes in the location of services.
Jennifer Brehmer, patient care manager for obstetrics at NUMC, said the new layout will provide much more privacy and quiet for mothers and their families. She said NUMC has been looking forward to expanding its available rooms, which allows the hospital to keep more mothers in one location. If the number delivering mother exceeds available space, the newer mothers have to be housed in beds in the hospital. Last year, NUMC had to house nearly 80 patients outside the center. Brehmer said the additional rooms allow the hospital to keep the occurrence to a minimum, allowing families to stay closer together throughout the process.
Brehmer said the renovation of the birth center is designed to both improve patient experience during their stay and keep the hospital ahead of the curve for birth center standards. She said that NUMC is likewise planning for an expected increase in baby deliveries it will handle in the future. She said that several other rural hospitals in Brown County have ended their birth centers, leading to those patients been taken over by NUMC.
The $1.2 million project will be funded through various collaborations and approximately $900,000 from Allina Hospitals. Other funding sources include $200,000 from the New Ulm Medical Center Foundation and a $100,000 rural health initiative grant from the State of Minnesota.
The project is expected to start early this fall. Various birth center rooms will be closed down for reconstruction, but others will remain open during this time. Construction will be scheduled to prevent disruptions to any patients in the center. Construction is expected to wrap up by early spring of 2013.
Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.