GREENFIELD — Half of Hancock County’s babies are born in Indianapolis, but Hancock Regional Hospital officials hope improvements to the maternity ward will bring more expecting moms through their doors.
The hospital is planning an $800,000 renovation to its Andis Women’s and Children’s Department to modernize the maternity ward, making the space more welcoming to families and soothing for new moms.
Much of the renovation will focus on creating a spa-like space for new mothers and their loved ones. Cabinets in the delivery rooms will be rearranged to create space for more built-in seating, and a utility closet area will be transformed into a separate space for partners or children. New flat-screen TVs will have ports so women or their partners can play soothing music or video before and after delivery.
The hospital’s maternity ward was built in 1993. The way mothers want to give birth, and the people they want there to support them, has changed a lot since then, officials say.
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Overall, the renovations are geared toward creating a customized birth experience for moms and families, said Theresa Lueder, director of the Andis Women’s and Children’s Unit.
For example, whiteboards on the doors of labor and delivery rooms will emphasize the mom’s birth plan, or what her wishes are concerning various options during her stay, Lueder said.
“We want the birth experience to be how the mom plans it to be,” she said. “It’s really a joyful event.”
Elizabeth Orr gave birth to her daughter, Piper Lynn, March 30, at Hancock Regional and said she had a wonderful experience from being admitted to leaving the hospital with her daughter.
The staff members, from nurses to custodial employees, were friendly and went out of their way to help Orr and her husband, Dan, she said.
A more “spa-like” environment in the labor and delivery rooms will help make a good experience even better, Orr said.
“I’m excited to have my next baby there to see what improvements have been made,” she said.
The same architecture firm that build the Sue Ann Wortman Cancer Center, Architects Forum of Indianapolis, will transform the maternity ward.
Some improvements have already been made to the unit. New floors were laid last year, and the waiting area has been upgraded with new furniture and TVs. Now, hospital officials are looking to take the next steps to making the facility more appealing to local moms-to-be.
“If we can improve our area and make it feel more modern and family-centered, people will want to stay here and continue to use our services,” said Allyson Smith, Hancock Regional Hospital Foundation manager. “Once they get in here and have a great experience, they’ll want to stay with us.”
In addition to an updated look, architects and officials are working together to make sure the new spaces will be clinically functional as well, Lueder said.
The hope is for nurses and doctors to have everything they need at their fingertips, from sinks and supplies to monitoring equipment, Lueder said. Some outdated items, including a desk area for storing paper patient charts, will be removed.
The Hancock Regional Hospital Foundation began planning for the renovations last year, after hospital CEO Steve Long shared the unit’s needs during the foundation’s strategic planning process, Smith said.
The foundation has begun a campaign to raise $250,000 for the project by the end of 2016, Smith said. The total project is expected to cost about $800,000, she said.
Foundation members plan to seek smaller donations from a broader base of people, Smith said.
“We just wrapped up our cancer center campaign, and the community has been so incredibly generous,” she said. “We knew we couldn’t turn around and ask again for really large gifts.”
Foundation members hope families, mothers, grandparents and those who will value the improved maternity ward will be inspired to donate, Smith said.
Nurses who work in the department are eager for the changes to be made.
Julie Canter, a nurse, has worked at the hospital for 21 years. She’s seen hundreds of mothers deliver in the care of Hancock Regional staff and looks forward to improving their experience with more modernized care and facilities.
She looks forward to seeing the finished product, when the labor and delivery area are more inviting for moms to be and their families.
“I can’t wait, I’m so excited,” she said.