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A pair of blessed events

Two babies were delivered within the first 24 hours since the birth of Kaiser Permanente’s new Westside Medical Center.

There were two birthing procedures scheduled Aug. 6, the same day the hospital opened to the public. One woman had a Caesarean section that evening, and a few hours later another expectant mother was induced.

While the labor and delivery section of obstetrics and gynecology was pretty quiet during the hospital’s opening day, the staff got to work with patients for the first time in several weeks that night.

“So much time and effort has been put into training so that the first patient we receive gets the same enthusiasm as the 300th — but none of us have had a patient for the last two-and-a-half months,” said Kathryn Vandewalle, a nurse hired in April.

“There will be a lot of ‘rock, paper, scissors’ this first week to see who gets to be with patients,” said Debbie Williams. She’s been with Kaiser for 20 years and was head nurse for the opening.

The labor and delivery section has large windows and bamboo floors, with a hide-a-bed sofa in private rooms offering views of a rooftop garden. Nearly every wall on the floor is adorned with art from numerous Northwest artists, following a theme of wildflowers.

“Hospitals can look really sterile, but this looks like a home,” said Williams.

Many hospitals have beds separated only by curtains, but WMC’s rooms are individual with a bed and bathroom for each.

“I love our labor rooms,” said Vandewalle, who previously worked at Providence. “The way this building has made use of light and space really brings things to life.”

Each room’s accoutrements strive to make the pregnant patient’s visit as easy as possible. Women are able to walk about, since each room is equipped with a telemetry unit. An interactive patient computer is located next to the patient’s bed. A remote has request-specific buttons — for water, pain, toilet or general assistance — so nurses can be more efficient.

“Patients define who family is and we don’t have visiting hours,” said Patty Solis, director of maternal-child woman’s health.

Just down the hall, there are 20 postpartum rooms, many with views of the living rooftop — part of a high-level sustainability certification. Each room has its own mini-fridge and double privacy curtains, nice for first-time mothers breastfeeding their babies, said Solis.

In early 2012, a committee of doctors, including Williams, came to the construction site before the walls were up and created a priority list for which rooms needed to go where. One result is that a small nursery is now conveniently located next to the surgery room, a fact that makes dealing with emergencies easier.

There is also a tub room for hydrotherapy — not water births — but if Mother Nature calls there’s a gurney and a warmer just in case.

Kaiser officials estimated the center will bring an average of 1,400 new lives into the world each year.




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