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Allen Hospital unveils newly expanded birthing center

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) - UnityPoint Health – Allen Hospital in Waterloo is unveiling its newly expanded and renovated birthing center to the public.

The $2.83 million dollar improvement project started in November of 2018.

EXPANDING WITH THE COMMUNITY

It's no secret the Cedar Valley is growing in population. Allen Hospital is growing with it.

"So, in the last three years, we've seen about a 20 to 25% growth in births," Vice President of Patient Care and Chief Nurse Executive of Allen Hospital, Mary Hagen said.

In 2017, the birthing center delivered 1,065 babies and 1,102 babies in 2018. Hagen said the hospital is on track to deliver close to 1,200 babies by the end of this year.

As younger families move to the community, Allen hasn't been able to keep up with the baby boom. They said the center's expansion and renovation was needed in the Cedar Valley.

"Being able to deliver these moms [in Waterloo] keeps these families in our community," Hagen said.

On busy delivery days, the hospital was often forced to move families and newborns to other wings in the hospital to accommodate the overflow.

"The physical space served us so well for 15 years," nurse manager of the birthing center and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Amanda Wagner said. "We just ran out of room."

IMPROVEMENT PROJECT

With nearly $3 million dollars in private donations to the Allen Foundation, the hospital has added:

  • Three additional private birthing suites, used for labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum, to bring the total to 15 rooms
  • Three swing rooms, which can be used for postpartum or NICU, creating room for 10 private NICU rooms for infants needing special attention after birth
  • Six postpartum rooms, which cannot host deliveries, but can be used for the family's entire stay

Now, the birthing center has 24 rooms in total.

The birthing suites have a shower and extra bed so a family can support the new mother.

"We support the mother while she's in labor, her support people while they're here supporting her, and caring from them after delivery," Wagner said.

The project also included adding new flooring and lighting to the unit, which originally opened in 2004.

Wagner said hospital leaders wanted the center to feel uniform throughout.

"We needed more rooms to care for more families and keep them in a consistent space," Wagner said. "We don't want them to feel like there's any difference between the new and what we had before."

ADDRESSING A BIGGER PROBLEM

The center's improvements come as more birthing and obstetrics units are closing in small towns across Iowa, leaving fewer options.

"We've heard some of the smaller hospitals that are not delivering anymore," Hagen said.

With a new facility, she hopes the hospital will reach more families in rural areas.

"We do expect that we will deliver even more babies," Hagen said.

The hospital is adding two obstetricians to the staff, in addition to a neonatologist that's starting this month.

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Olivia Schmitt

Morning Anchor

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