U.Va. hospital opens renovated inpatient unit for new mothers and babies

U.Va. hospital opens renovated inpatient unit for new mothers and babies

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This ward is for new mothers, infants and expectant mothers who require additional monitoring before giving birth and is located on the section of the eighth floor known as 8 Central.

Courtesy UVA Health

After setting a hospital record of delivering over 2,000 babies in 2018, the University hospital opened its renovated inpatient unit Jan. 21, 2019. This ward is for new mothers, infants and expectant mothers who require additional monitoring before giving birth and is located on the section of the eighth floor known as 8 Central. The unit had been closed since last April for remodeling.

The renovation of 8 Central is part of a larger effort to create a more welcoming environment for patients throughout the hospital. Specifically, 8 Central is one of the last areas to be upgraded on the eighth floor, which houses the OB-GYN, labor, delivery and postpartum services for women and their families.  

According to Karin Skeen, the administrator for women’s and children’s services in the University’s Children’s Hospital, 8 Central was the culminating step in redesigning the hospital experience of children, from arriving at the hospital to give birth to the day babies leave with their families.

“In an earlier phase of the project, we renovated the entire labor and delivery unit,” Skeen said. “Those were major renovations … This phase is completing ...  how we wanted the whole thing to work together.”

Skeen mentioned that repairs and improvements began over two years ago, with a period of planning proceeding that. During the past two years, construction teams have moved from unit to unit. This could occasionally be challenging, Skeen explained, as the hospital continued to admit patients.

“There were a lot of moving parts to make it all work because what we couldn’t do was interrupt service,” she said. “We still had women coming in to deliver babies. We had to keep a spot open for them, and we utilized space on the seventh and eighth floors to do that.”

This occasionally required shuffling women and children amongst various wings and modifying these wings based on the types of care and procedures needed. While other sections were being upgraded, 8 Central became the substitute labor and delivery unit, and then, during the renovation of 8 Central, women and newborns were directed to other wards on the eighth floor.

“We used our space very strategically,” Skeen said. “It required a lot of communication, a lot of planning for each phase of the construction to make sure we didn’t interrupt the care we were providing. However, I would say we got through the entire project with no major hiccups.”

The renovations included 15 remodeled postpartum rooms adjacent to labor and delivery rooms, as well as a newborn assessment area, a reoriented staff workroom that facilitates frequent monitoring of newborns and a centralized nurse station that permits hospital staff to oversee all of the individual rooms from the same place. Skeen specifically highlighted quieter, more well-lit rooms remodeled to give patients more privacy, re-tiled bathrooms and pull-out couches that provide people staying with the mother and child with more comfortable accommodations.

Certain rooms also cater directly to mothers that need specialized care following pregnancy. Feedback from patients, said Skeen, is largely positive, particularly in that accommodations are clean and more secluded.

Third-year Nursing student Eleni Lazarides spent time on 8 Central after the renovations were completed as part of her clinicals, which are opportunities for nursing students to gain hands-on experience with patients and the hospital. 

She noted that the rooms seemed more spacious and well-organized, featuring slimmer pieces of furniture, linen bins, bathroom sinks and shelves that enable patients, doctors and nurses to easily move around the rooms as needed.

“It’s more streamlined,” Lazarides said. “It’s also definitely less cluttered and a much more minimalist approach to care.”

8 Central has been open to patients for almost a month now and is officially the designated inpatient unit for mothers and their babies. However, even though renovations for the seventh and eighth floors were just completed, Skeen continues to look ahead and plan for future adjustments.

“On the seventh and eighth floor, we fill up our spaces most of the time, so we always have to be thinking about how are we going to manage if our volume grows more,” Skeen said. “If there is an opportunity, we will expand.”

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