Special deliveries Medical center opens new labor, delivery unit
By , 81st Medical Group
/ Published January 24, 2007
KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- After almost a year's delay due to Hurricane Katrina, Keesler Medical Center opened its new labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum unit Jan. 8.
The last baby was born at the medical center Aug. 29, 2005, during the hurricane.
Originally scheduled for completion a year ago, the unit offers beautiful surroundings and state-of-the-art equipment for patients who'll deliver at the medical center.
According to Cynthia Butz, a clinical nurse in the 81st Surgical Operations Squadron perinatal services department, the new unit offers large, airy rooms where women spend their entire stay throughout the delivery experience.
"I'm really impressed by the rooms," Ms. Butz said. "They have windows (which the hospital's former labor and delivery area lacked), are light-filled, decorated with pastel colors and have wood floors. The medical equipment in the rooms is state-of-the art. Each has a TV and DVD player. Most important to mothers, the rooms have private bathrooms."
She added that eventually each room will have its own coastal theme.
Ms. Butz noted that babies will stay with their mothers most of the time. However, the unit also includes a transitional nursery for newborns who need more attention after delivery.
There are also antepartum rooms for expectant mothers who experience medical problems early in their pregnancies and two operating rooms for Caesarian deliveries.
The unit is staffed with six obstetrics/gynecology physicians, a nurse midwife, nine Air Force and three civilian nurses and seven medical technicians. More staff is arriving in the coming year.
Ms. Butz said having a midwife on staff is a definite plus.
"Many people like the services midwives provide -- it's a different kind of care," she pointed out.
Active-duty nurses were hand-picked for their clinical experience by the 81st Medical Group's chief nurse, Col. Elizabeth Bowers-Klaine.
"I'm really excited to have this unit open -- we've known for a long time that our labor and delivery was old and unappealing to many patients," said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Michael Bash-ford, 81st MSGS obstetrics/ gynecology flight commander. "Now we have a beautiful new unit with lots of space. It rivals any civilian hospital. I think our patients will be anxious to have their babies here when they see what has been done.
"I am also very happy with our new labor and delivery staff," he continued. "All of our nurses have many years of experience on labor and delivery. It is going to be a great team."
Construction was completed in August at a cost of $9.4 million. Colonel Bashford noted that planning for the new unit began several years ago, and construction began before Hurricane Katrina.
"We were worried after the hurricane about what would happen to the construction, but were very gratified when the decision was made to complete the project," the colonel remarked. "From my point of view, it's all about giving our patients a great delivery experience."