Expanded Family Birthing Centre offers more space and capacity to care for more moms and babies

The new Family Birthing Centre at St. Joseph’s Health Centre is addressing the growing need for obstetrical care in Toronto’s West end with increased capacity to welcome 4,000 new babies into this world every year.

This summer, St. Joseph’s Health Centre opened our brand new Our Lady of Mercy (OLM) Patient Care Wing, giving our Women’s, Children’s and Family Health Program bigger and brighter care spaces that offer calming patient and family environments.

One of the largest programs, our Family Birthing Centre, now has the ability to increase birth volumes by 1,000 more every year. Recruitment plans are underway to bring on more obstetricians who will be accepting new patients.

“The ability to grow our capacity is a great benefit for patients who can receive care at their community hospital, closer to home,” said Dr. Hani Akoury Chief of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St. Joseph’s Health Centre.

“The biggest feature of the newly expanded space is having an ambiance that is much more calming for moms in labour and their families. The care provided at St. Joseph’s, by the staff and physicians in our Family Birthing Centre are next to none,” said Dr. Akoury. “We are happy to provide continued excellence in obstetrical care to our community in a new facility that will allow us to care for even more moms and babies.”

The Family Birthing Centre is designated to provide Level II specialized care to women whose low or moderate risk pregnancies have reached 32 weeks or greater. We partner with Level III centres to transfer care when a woman’s at-risk pregnancy is greater than 24 weeks and less than 32 weeks.

The new unit is nearly double in size than the previous unit in the hospital’s Morrow and Glendale Wings, with more rooms and beds for patients. All patient rooms are larger, to easily accommodate the necessary medical equipment for moms and babies and room to comfortably accommodate visiting family members. The larger layout of the unit has also been a welcome change for the staff to maneuver around and supports a much more efficient work flow.

“We now have 16 labour, birth, recovery and post-parturm rooms (LBRP), double the amount from the previous unit,” explains Ann Holden, Patient Care Manager of the Family Birthing Centre. “These rooms allow a mom to be in one room for her entire labour, birth and recovery.”

St. Joseph’s Family Birthing Centre nurses are specially trained in perinatal nursing, so that they can care for moms through all stages of the birthing process, and supports St. Joseph’s commitment to providing patient and family centred care, Holden adds. In addition to the LBRP rooms there are 28 postpartum bed rooms on the unit.

“One service that nurses can now offer to labouring moms is hydrotherapy, since all patient rooms are equipped with a shower and there is a hydrotherapy tub on the unit to help promote relaxation through labour,” said Holden.

“We also offer a food program thanks to the generosity of the Sprott Foundation, which enables family members and moms to get a snack anytime, day or night. It’s the ambiance of the department and these small comforts that we can provide to patients that help them feel that this is a place that really cares about them and thinks about family centred care,” said Holden.

Adjacent to the Family Birthing Centre is the Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), providing specialized care for newborns that were born prematurely and those who may have respiratory complications or other medical complications. Close proximity to the Family Birthing Centre allows for babies to be transferred easily and quickly to the NICU when necessary. The NICU is also significantly larger than the previous location, and has the capacity to potentially grow to accommodate 20 isolettes.

“If St. Joseph’s is your community hospital not only can you have your baby here, but families come back for paediatric care in our Just for Kids Clinic, the inpatient unit if needed and to our Emergency Department for emergency medical attention – which has a separate area for children,” explains Holden.

“Generally, a family’s first introduction to the hospital is through the birthing experience and when you get to know the warmth and values of St. Joseph’s through the birthing experience, I think it puts families in a comfortable position to return here when they need other critical medical care,” Holden adds.

Rachael Grey recently had her third child at St. Joseph’s. Daughter Saskia was born on October 30, 2012 weighing a healthy 6 lbs., 9oz. The Grey family welcomed Saskia three weeks early.

“The new centre is great, it’s spacious, with large rooms,” says mom Rachel. “And the level of care I’ve received is fantastic. Everyone is lovely and took great care of me. I’ve had a perfect experience here.”