July 28, 2003
After 4 Years of Labor, MMH new maternity unit is born
Manchester – It’s been one of the longest gestation periods
Manchester Memorial Hospital has seen in a while. But after four years of waiting,
its new maternity unit finally will celebrate its birthday.
The SBM Charitable Foundation Family Birthing Center will open its doors to patients
next month, offering the one thing maternity staffers say moms-to-be want: Labor,
delivery, and aftercare in the same room.
The $9 million facility also offers things the 70-some doctors and nurses in the
maternity department say they want: better organized supplies, more space to work,
and added features for women in labor.
“It’ll be so nice to see your years of work pay off” at the
completion of the project, says Amy D’Agata , clinical nurse manager at
The spacious lobby area of the unit gives way to 22,500 square feet of space above
the hospital’s ambulatory services center that boasts a well-baby nursery,
a five-bed special care nursery, 12 patient rooms, two spa rooms, and areas for
What’ll be great for moms, D’ Agata says, is they’ll be able
to go through labor and delivery in the same room where they cuddle with their
newborns after birth. They’ll be able to shower in the rooms’ private
baths and celebrate with family members there.
The hospital, which is operated by Eastern Connecticut Health Network, will be
able to provide a “continuity of care” with the same nurses assigned
to patients and not a lot of shifting around the hospital, D’ Agata says.
Veteran nurse Susan Pasay, who’s spent all but four of her 21 years at the
hospital in the maternity unit, says moms and babies now will be able to build
bonds staring with their first face-to-face meeting.
Babies will be born in the rooms, cleaned up in specially designed sinks, and
placed in bed right nest to their mothers.
In the existing maternity unit on the hospital’s third floor, there are
only two private rooms, she says. Everyone else has to double up with another
woman and share bathing facilities.
“It’ll be nice to give it to everybody.” Pasay says about affording
people the luxury of a private room.
After a vaginal delivery most women spend two days in the hospital, D’ Agata
and Pasay say. But after a Caesarean section, that stay is extended to three or
Now that time will be a little more comfortable, they agree – especially
during the birthing experience.
The new center offers tow spa rooms with sink-in tubs, piped-in soft music, and
scented machines for those who want natural hydrotherapy pain relief, the two
say. The space also will be used for women who want a water birth.
“The whole point of Lamaze is to relax,” Pasay says.
The soft blues and greens of the patient rooms are intended to evoke a sense of
calm for nervous parents. The muted melon color of the nurseries is meant to bring
about a feeling of tranquility.
Each of those details – even whether to make specific storage spaces a drawer
of cabinet – was made by the design team that include nurses, doctors, administrators,
construction staff from Downs Construction in New Britain, and architects from
Zannon Design in Boston.
On Aug. 9 the public will have the chance to see the facility for the first time,
with its new equipment and furnishings. The open house will be held from 11 a.m.
to 4 p.m. Visitors should enter the building via the ambulatory services center
on Guard Street.
“First-time visitors will be amazed with the state-of-the-art center,”
ECHN President and CEO Marc Lory says about the unit that was financed through
a grant from the SBM Foundation, hospital funds, and other donations.
“It is a thoroughly modern and spacious facility, designed to provide every
possible advantage to mother and child,” Lory says.
The first children will be born in the unit later in the month, when staff officially
moves into the space.
Some new moms have said they “wished they were due a little later”
so they could take advantage of the new facility, D’ Agata jokes.
But those who are pregnant now are encouraged to visit the unit to “get
a comfort level” with the space before they are brought in during that nerve-wracking
and busy time, D’ Agate says.