A Better Birthplace: Mercy Embraces Change for New Moms
For Michele Schwarzmann, Mercy nurse and Director of Maternal Child Health, seeing is believing when it comes to the hospital’s new Family Childbirth and Children’s Center.
“The first thing you notice is the change to the physical environment—we have bigger labor and delivery rooms, and we’ve applied the zone concept to each room – one zone for the nurses, one zone for the patient, one zone for the family. Now we’ve added the baby zone. There you’ll find a warmer for the infant and a computer in each room, both in Labor and Delivery and in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU),” said Schwarzmann.
“The L&D nurse and NICU nurse don’t have to share a computer. It’s quicker and safer. Additionally, all of the supplies needed for the baby are right there. Nurses don’t have to go from one room to another to get what they need. And with the new PCDs (Personal Communication Devices), nurses will receive immediate alarms if there’s an issue with mom or baby, and will be able to stay in instant touch with each other, no matter where they are on the floor. Coupling planning with new technology has resulted in a more organized and refined system,” Schwarzmann said.
According to Schwarzmann, nurses played a leadership role in the design of the new Center.
“I’ve been at other hospitals that have built new maternal child health areas and this is the first I’ve experienced where nurses sat at the table with the architects, physicians and property management planners to work through issues. The nurses came up with some great ideas for the new facilities,” she said.
Among the features inspired by nurses’ input are a “prep area” where visiting family members can “wash up and gown” before entering the NICU. To enhance workflow, placement of the fetal monitor, computer and the various tools used for documentation of mother and baby’s status was redesigned for the new Center and is now “more ergonomically focused” for the nursing staff.
“In Labor and Delivery we have three whirlpool tubs for mothers who want to experience natural child birth. The tubs are designed and placed to allow easy access to the patient by the nurse, midwife and physician, from all three sides. The tubs are designed to be most beneficial for the mom’s relaxation and the faucets are placed to avoid any interference,” she said.
Schwarzmann notes that Mercy will be “the first hospital in Baltimore” to offer “all single family rooms” in the NICU. “This means parents will be able to stay with their babies. These moms and dads are typically not prepared to deal with a premature, sick infant and they don’t want to leave the baby’s bedside. Now, they don’t have to,” she said.