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September 20, 2012

Weatherford Regional to update maternity ward

WEATHERFORD — Women who go to Weatherford Regional Medical Center to have their babies will soon have an updated facility as a result of hospital district funding.

Updates to the more than 14,000-square-foot women’s services area, including four labor and delivery rooms, 10 postpartum rooms, a newborn nursery and a C-section area, will likely begin later this year, according to staff.

“That unit was constructed in 1997,” Chief Nursing Officer Donna Boone said about renovation plans. “It’s a happy place. It’s where we create pleasant memories in the hospital, which sometimes that’s not the case. And so we’re excited about being able to update it, provide a more comfortable atmosphere for our patients.”

“In addition to that there will be capital equipment purchases such as a new bed for the C-section room and new beds for the patient rooms,” Boone said. “It’s more than just a facelift. It’s improving some of the technology we have back there, and equipment.”

The 12-month project is expected to begin in November or December and will be completed several rooms at a time to avoid disrupting patients.

The area accounts for about 10 of the hospital’s 99 beds, according to Marketing Manager Emily Lewis.

In July, the hospital district approved a payment of up to $9 million to Community Health Systems, the hospital operator, through the Upper Payment Limit program, a state and federal program that matches payments based on the number of Medicaid patients seen at the hospital, for physical improvements to the facility.

“This is a big part of what we want to spend that UPL money on, to provide upgrades so that we can meet the [health care services] needs of Parker County residents,” Lewis said. “Growing with this community, we want to provide all the services that anyone in Parker County would need. This is just one of the ways we want stay up on that.”

As the hospital is still receiving estimates, they don’t know what the renovations are expected to cost but it will be a sizable project, Lewis said.

Walking from the newly renovated and expanded portion of the hospital into the maternal and newborn center, the 1997 construction of the older portion of the building is evident.

In addition to modernizing the look and replacing worn flooring or wallpaper, they’ll be upgrading the nurse call system, adding cabinets and modernizing bathrooms.

Perhaps where the improvements will be most apparent to visitors will be the lobby. The lobby facelift will including updating flooring, walls  and lighting, Rick Leonard, director of support services for Weatherford Regional Medical Center, said. They will also be creating a viewing area for the newborn nursery where family and friends can take a peek at new arrivals.

Installing new cabinets, putting in additional furniture, replacing the artwork and updating the floors are some of their plans for the labor and delivery rooms, according to Leonard.

The postpartum rooms, where patients usually go about two hours after delivery and the family often meets the new child, will also be getting significant upgrades.

Leonard pointed out wallpaper starting to peel and portions of the flooring beginning to bubble up at one room as things they want to fix.

The bathrooms will also be modernized, Leonard said.

They will be putting in special bathtubs designed for women who have just given birth, Lewis said.

The nurse’s stations will also get a little renovation.

Everything’s computerized now and they need areas to store things such as the portable computers nurses take from room to room to take vital signs, according to Leonard.

In addition to aesthetic improvements in the newborn nursery, which is equipped to care for up to six infants, they will also be getting new infant warmers and radiant heaters.

The sterile C-section area will also be upgraded, as well, Leonard said.

The women’s services area of the hospital is not the only area that could be seeing upgrades in the next few years.

Other projects that have not been finalized but CHS is planning for the future include converting semi-private rooms on the second floor to private beds, according to Lewis. That is not expected to occur until 2013, she said.

They also want to make the cafeteria more user friendly by expanding seating and improving the flow.

Defying the hospital food stereotype, the cafeteria is quite popular, opening for lunch with a line and staying packed from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., according to Lewis.

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