A Look Inside Ochsner Baptist’s New Women’s Pavilion

21 November 2013

Woodward’s work at the Ochsner Baptist Medical Center is helping the hospital bring women’s health services and infant deliveries to the City of New Orleans. Nola.com takes a look inside the new facilities on the corner of Napoleon and St. Charles.

Ochsner Baptist's new $40 million Women's Pavilion aims to be more than a place to give birth

Nola.com | The Times-Picayune

20 November 2013

Melanie Williams has her eye on Room 636.

Ever since the walls went up and the patient rooms started taking shape at the new, $40 million Ochsner Baptist Women’s Pavilion, the registered nurse has been coveting the view from the sixth-floor hospital room in the mother and babies area.

“This,” Williams said as she looked out the picture windows over Napoleon Avenue toward a cityscape that includes the Superdome, the Crescent City Connection and the tops of several brightly painted Creole cottages, “is the essence of where we live.”

On Dec. 1, Ochsner will move all of its women’s services from its riverside Ochsner Medical Center in Jefferson Parish to this historic Uptown hospital campus, where babies stopped being born after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

The highly orchestrated move is expected to bring about 3,200 additional infant deliveries per year to New Orleans proper, where Touro Infirmary has been the only option for mothers hoping to deliver within parish lines. Touro boasted more than 3,000 deliveries in 2012 at its Prytania Street location.

Dr. Alfred Robichaux, chairman of Women’s Health Maternal Fetal Medicine at Ochsner, has long campaigned for an expanded, full-service women’s center at Ochsner, where a growing department has lead to cramped quarters in Jefferson.

He said it was part happenstance, part market research and part logistics that led the hospital to pick Baptist as the new home. And when administrators started discussing the move, a market research firm confirmed that patient demand was there.

“We were surprised to hear people say, ‘I want my baby born in New Orleans,’” Robichaux said.

But, three years after planning began, it’s clear the Baptist operation endeavors to be more than just a place to have a baby and care for newborns. It includes a spa, a concierge, valet parking, dry cleaning and by-request room service availability from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“It’s really driven toward meeting the needs of the modern woman,” said Dawn Anuszkiewuicz, who joined Oschner Baptist nine months ago as chief executive officer.

Nine spacious labor and delivery rooms and 39 suites used before and after delivery are decorated with honey maple paneling and furnishings designed to hide away imposing medical equipment. Hallways are painted in soothing blues and creams to invoke a calming spa-like feel, a spokeswoman said.

The smallest mother and baby post-partum suite is 50 percent larger than the biggest room at the Jefferson Highway hospital.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is designed to provide an increased level of privacy and quiet to the tiniest and most fragile infants — from adjustable lighting to rubber floors that absorb sound and don’t require waxing, which can expose babies to harsh chemicals.

At the Jefferson Highway location now, NICU babies are clustered together in a crowded ward-like atmosphere in three separate pods in the building. Families often struggle to find privacy to care for and visit their little ones.

“Kids get better faster in an environment that is quieter and darker,” said Dr. Harley Ginsberg, medical director for Ochsner’s NICU. “I’m hoping this will speed up the healing and get babies home faster.”

The Baptist NICU boasts 17 private rooms where families can be alone with their babies and still remain within view of a nurse. Four rooms are designed to house twins and six rooms have the capacity to hold a larger family.

Tiny web cameras attached to warmers and incubators provide families who can’t always be with their little ones the opportunity to see them round the clock from their smartphones.

“We created a service and facility that we think is different and will provide a different experience for moms, said Warner Thomas, president and chief executive officer of Ochsner Health System.

Starting in January, women who want to deliver with the help of a midwife — but want to do so in a hospital environment — can plan to give birth in an alternative birthing center staffed by three nurse midwives. The facility is expected to include birthing tubs, birthing balls and a yoga swing for women who want the option of getting out of bed during labor.

A hospital spokeswoman said Ochsner anticipates accommodating about 150 births a year in the alternative center.

About 400 employees will service the new facility, including about 24 doctors, an overall 10 percent increase in staffing from the Jefferson location. And while all the doctors currently delivering at the hospital identify themselves as Ochsner physicians, Thomas said he anticipates community doctors will be delivering there as well.

Meanwhile, a few blocks toward the Mississippi River, Touro has undergone its own six-month, $3 million renovation. The changes, according to a spokeswoman, include an expanded waiting room for families, the addition of two birthing tubs, a renovated well-baby nursery and updated room finishes.

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