And baby makes three

Birthing, intensive care and prenatal under one roof
Friday, November 7, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:22 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 5, 2008

When expectant mother Tabitha Ndegwa finally goes into labor, she’ll be able to give birth in the same building where she receives her prenatal care.

Ndegwa receives prenatal care at Columbia Regional Hospital. Starting Monday, birthing services will be offered at Columbia Regional Hospital instead of University Hospital. The newborn intensive care unit has moved there, too.

The move is designed to bring birthing, intensive care and prenatal care services under one roof.

In August 2002, Missouri OB/GYN Associates began practicing at Columbia Regional Hospital. Both University Hospital and Columbia Regional are owned by University of Missouri Health Care.

Dr. James Green, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at MU, said moving birthing services and the intensive care unit to the same hospital as obstetrics will be more convenient for patients like Ndegwa.

“Our main goal is to provide the best care we know how in a comfortable setting,” Green said. “Our care gets better when we can practice in one facility.”

Green said the move will benefit patients because Columbia Regional, located just off Interstate 70 and U.S. 63, is more accessible than at University Hospital. Parking is also more centralized, he said.

About 150 staff members, not including physicians, are being relocated as a result of the move. Research and gynecologic oncology will remain at University Hospital, and no jobs will be lost due to the relocation, Green said.

It cost about $8 million to build the family birthing center and the newborn intensive care unit at Columbia Regional. On Wednesday, the hospital provided open tours.

Ndegwa was one of many on hand to tour the facility.

“I think it’s just a wonderful place,” she said. “It’s very nice.”

The birthing center is on the third floor and covers 24,400 square feet. It has eight delivery rooms, 14 pre-birth and postpartum rooms, two nurseries and two surgical suites. Rooms for mothers are private and come with their own bathrooms.

“The rooms offer a hotel-like atmosphere,” Green said.

Each room has a television, videocassette player and DVD player, a hideaway bed for partners, a crib and a rocking chair. All mothers also receive a diaper bag, night light and a Tiger Tot baby outfit.

Green said he hopes the family birthing center will service about 30 additional births a month, or 360 births a year. Columbia Regional hospital officials are unsure how much additional revenue the new center will generate.

Adjusting to the change in location hasn’t been difficult for Dr. Elizabeth James, director of the newborn intensive care unit.

“It’s a different environment, but it’s going to be fun,” James said. “The staff has been so enthusiastic for us to come. They’re very concerned with making us feel at home.”

A helipad will be located near the care unit so critically ill newborns can be transported there from throughout the state. The care unit at University Hospital received about 350 newborns from other health-care facilities each year.

The care unit policies will remain the same. James said the only difference for her and her staff will be the view.

“It’s just picking it up from one place and putting it down in another,” James said.

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