It was a very busy first day of operations at UTMB’s new Comprehensive Maternity Center Thursday, Feb. 16. As the 7 a.m. shift began, laboring mothers began arriving — 37 in all during the center’s first 24 hours. Thirty of those delivered their babies before the day was over.
The spacious new labor-delivery-recovery suites were filled to capacity by early afternoon, as were the observation rooms, the triage rooms and the obstetric post-operative acute care unit. The operating room was filled with cesarean section patients all day as well. Eight babies were delivered by cesarean section the first day. One set of twins was born early Friday morning.
“As soon as we opened the doors to our new maternity center, it was like the floodgates opened,” said nurse manager Jeanne Key.
The first baby born in the new unit — by C-section — was Emiliano Hernandez, 7 pounds, 7 ounces, at 1:19 p.m. Thursday. He is the second child of Jose Hernandez, 41, and his wife Marivel Hernandez, 37, of Katy. She had received all her prenatal care at UTMB’s Katy Maternal and Child Health Clinic, so UTMB’s John Sealy Hospital was her first choice of places to deliver. The couple’s first child, Jose, who is nearly 3, was born at UTMB in Galveston as well.
“We couldn’t be happier with everything about this birth,” Jose Hernandez said. “The medical care was excellent, the doctors and nurses were so kind and the new facilities are so beautiful. We are so pleased with everything.”
The new Comprehensive Maternity Center has 16 private, spacious labor-delivery-recovery suites, five triage rooms, four prolonged observation rooms, a maternal intensive monitoring bay, and an obstetric post-surgical recovery area. The facilities are supported by five operating rooms and one fetal surgery room. The center is on the same floor as UTMB’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, making it ideally suited for high-risk maternity patients.
Postpartum rooms are still available in the Waverly Smith Pavilion – so on busy days like Thursday, there’s overflow space available for mothers and babies to move into after the babies are born.
Families are supported by health-care professionals with the expertise to respond immediately to the most complicated pregnancies, including obstetrician gynecologists, neonatologists, obstetric anesthesiology specialists and highly skilled obstetric nurses.
On a typical day, the labor-delivery-recovery team consists of 17 nurses, eight obstetric residents, one obstetric faculty member, one midwife, four obstetric anesthesiologists and a full neonatal team of residents, practitioners, nurses and respiratory therapists.
“The labor and delivery staff who worked on the new unit the first day had great things to say about its spaciousness, functionality and beauty,” said Cheryl Day, director of nursing services and assistant chief nursing officer. “In particular, they talked about how the new rooms allowed for wonderful family-centered care by providing more space for the families to be involved in the actual birth process.”
The patient’s family is able to remain comfortably with the birthing mom, while having all the amenities of home – a large flat-screen TV, comfortable chairs for sleep and rest, a spacious bathroom, ample closets, a refrigerator and calming lighting and interior design.
“Our staff has always provided our patients excellent medical and nursing care, and this new unit now provides a beautiful environment in which to showcase it,” said Key. “On the first day, staff were bustling around with such smiles on their faces. They were so proud as they oriented patients to these beautiful new rooms and the unit.”
“Our maternity team boasts numerous Ob/Gyn specialists with board certifications in both critical care and maternal-fetal medicine — a capability equaled by virtually no other facility in Texas,” said Dr. Gary Hankins, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology.
Mothers at lower risk for complications have access to UTMB’s certified nurse midwives, who are available 24 hours a day to attend births and provide woman-centered care in UTMB’s Ob/Gyn clinics. The midwives and physicians work closely together to provide the individualized birth experiences many families request.
Birthing suites are twice as big as before. Mothers with uncomplicated pregnancies deliver in the new rooms. The suites are smartly furnished with hardwood floors, a flat-panel TV and refrigerator. The baby’s bassinet warmer is at the mother’s bedside.
“Mothers will be able to deliver their babies in a comfortable, pleasant setting, and their babies will be able to room-in with their mothers for virtually their entire hospital stay,” Richardson said
The Comprehensive Maternity Center is a part of the larger John Sealy Hospital Modernization Project for which the Sealy & Smith Foundation has provided the majority of funding. The cost of the modernization project is $36 million and includes, in addition to the new maternity center, improvements to the two medical-surgical wings (now completed), the Blocker Burn Unit, the pediatric intensive care unit (in construction) and hospital infrastructure (in construction), according to Mike Shriner, UTMB’s vice president for business operations and facilities.
The center offers tours on the first Monday of the month at 9 a.m. It is located on the 8th floor of John Sealy Hospital, 1306 Market St., Galveston. No reservation is needed for tours.