With their first child expected to arrive just a week after the opening of a new $21 million perinatal unit at Kelowna General Hospital, expectant parents Fiona and Pete Patterson were glowing at the opportunity of being one of the first set of parents to welcome a newborn in the state-of-the-art facility.
The Pattersons were among dignitaries, media and staff that toured the new perinatal (maternity) ward at KGH last week, a facility that brings the hospital’s child birth facilities up to modern times.
It features expanded patient and clinical care space that focusses on keeping mother and new baby close to each other at all times and allows for more interaction for new dads and families as well.
“As first time expectant parents, we were thrilled upon touring the new unit,” said Fiona.
“They really listened to what women need. There’s more privacy, natural light, it really promotes a sense of relaxation.
“Not only is it aesthetically pleasing but it’s functional. It caters to women and families.
“There are resources right in the room for moms and babies that promotes attachment right away.”
The new unit will open on March 6 and Fiona Patterson is expected to deliver her baby on March 12.
The couple took some pre-natal classes in KGH’s old maternity ward and had been contemplating a home birth.
But if the baby cooperates and shows up on time, the couple will be in the fourth floor of the recently opened Heart and Surgical Centre at KGH to welcome their new family member.
“This really takes home birth out of the question for us,” said Pete.
“It just seems very organized with everything flowing really nicely. It’s made for patients.
“We’re very happy. They can keep the baby in the room and really take an attachment approach.”
Interior Health says there are many benefits to the new unit including:
• Expanded patient and clinical space
• A modern neonatal intensive care unit
• A new surgical suite for schedule Caesarean section and multiple birth deliveries
• Private and semi private post-partum rooms
• A patient and family-centred care environment
The new unit was designed with input from health care workers.
KGH nurse Bonnie Wilke, who will work in the neonatal intensive care unit, says it really brings the hospital’s child birthing facilities up to modern times.
“This is amazing,” said Wilke. “I can’t wait to see patients in here. The old unit has done it’s job but it was built in the 1960s.
“That was a different time for parents. The new unit supports a model of care where parents are involved. It’s nice being family friendly.”
The new unit has three labour assessment bays, five private labour and delivery rooms, one labour and delivery isolation room as well as one dedicated operating room.
There are nine private rooms and four semi-private rooms. And for families, there are washrooms with showers, a large waiting room and two nourishment centres where families can refrigerate and prepare food.
“Having a baby is one of life’s most joyous, and most stressful, moments,” said Premier Christy Clark, who is also the MLA for Westside-Kelowna.
“This new unit will provide moms and loved ones with a state-of-the-art facility and soothing atmosphere in which to enjoy the start of a new life together.”
“After seeing the new perinatal unit firsthand, I know this is a place where the 1,600 babies born at Kelowna General Hospital every year will get the best start to life,” added Norm Letnick, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country.
“A modern neonatal intensive care unit with central monitoring, and areas for stabilization, transition and high needs babies will support parents whose newborns need a little extra help.”
Erwin Malzer, the Interior Health board chairman, called the new perintal unit a nurturing environment for moms and babies, and a modern, healthy workplace for hospital employees.
The perinatal unit is included within the $381-million budget for the new Interior Heart & Surgical Centre. The Central Okanagan Regional Hospital District provided the $18-million capital cost of the unit and the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation has committed $3-million for new state-of-the-art equipment and support funding.
“We know that the new unit is much needed and will be well used by growing families,” said Gail Given, chairwoman of Central Okanagan Regional Hospital District.
“It just made sense to go ahead and fully fund the construction of the fourth floor while the Interior Heart and Surgical Centre was being built, rather than waiting and adding the new unit sometime in the future.”
“Our community is extremely proud of KGH and their help is critical to make it what it is today. The KGH Foundation is extremely grateful for the support our community is providing to our most vulnerable patients through our Giving Giggles Campaign,” noted Doug Rankmore, chief executive officer, Kelowna General Hospital Foundation.
For expectant mom Fiona Patterson, the open spaces and the feel of the new unit provides everything a new mother could hope for.
“The energy of this new birth space is one that promotes relaxation and is really attuned to the needs of the whole family.” she said.
“It’s so soothing. We were impressed with the upgraded equipment.
“It’s comforting to know that maternity care in Kelowna is a priority.”