As a labor and delivery nurse, Michelle Gilmore, RN, knows its routine for physicians and nurses to pose for photos with newborns they help deliver.
So Gilmore, of Frederick, Md., will enjoy explaining later in life to her son, Declan, how it is that he came to be photographed with the president of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.
For months, Gilmore and other maternal-child nurses sat through meetings with hospital leadership and architects to go over the plans for Mercy Medical Centers Family Childbirth and Children’s Center in the Mary Catherine Bunting Center.
The new unit is 70,000 square feet and includes a 13-bed labor and delivery unit, a 32-bed mother-baby unit, a newborn nursery, a 26-bed Level 3B NICU and a five-bed pediatric unit on the eighth and 10th floors of the Bunting Center.
The project took two years to complete.
To make the unit efficient and effective in providing top quality patient care, the hospital leadership worked closely with its nurses.
“We had a hand in everything, from the start,” said Tracie Cox, RN, MS, CNM, manager of the labor and delivery unit. “Every role in every unit was represented, and the results show it.”
The hospital leaderships commitment to including bedside staff in the planning process is reflected in the new unit, Cox said.
She said hospital leadership met with and solicited input from nurses throughout the planning process.
That input is reflected in details such as the location of supply closets and how the operating rooms are laid out and equipped.
The feedback from RNs also resulted in an improved electronic patient communication system, which routes patient calls from the bedside directly to nurses wireless phones, without going through a central nursing station first, Cox said.
“Youd be surprised how much that improves response times,” Cox said. “And the nurses love it, because it cuts out the middle man.”
As Gilmore and her coworkers counted down the days to the opening of the new birthing center, Gilmore also was counting down the days to the birth of her own child.
While she had thought she might get to be the first new mother to give birth in the new birthing center, Gilmore came up a few days short. She gave birth to her son two days before Mercy opened the new birthing center June 10.
But Gilmore received the next best honor when she and Declan were transferred to the new birthing center. They became its first patients, prompting a celebratory photo session with hospital leadership.
“Im glad I got to deliver at the old building because thats where I worked,” Gilmore said. “But it was really nice to be in the new building.”
She particularly lauded the large and spacious private patient rooms for mothers and babies.
As she looked forward to resuming her duties, Gilmore said she had been talking with her fellow nurses about the new workspace.
“It sounds like they really like it,” she said.
Cox said any hospital seeking to build a new care space could learn from Mercys experience.
“Definitely get the nurses involved from the beginning, get them to buy in, and let the nurses be the champions for the new unit,” Cox said.
Jonathan Bilyk is a freelance writer.