Published on August 18, 2022

Birthplace, midwife suite in Vision Northland project to enhance baby-delivery experience 

As part of the Vision Northland project, Essentia Health’s replacement hospital will feature several enhancements aimed at making the baby-delivery experience unique, private and comfortable.

VNL Birthplace“Giving birth is one of the most special days in a mother’s life, and we kept that top of mind throughout the entire design process,” said Dr. Michael Kassing, Essentia’s section chair for obstetrics. “We created a private, intimate and personalized space so this experience can be truly special for everyone involved.”

The replacement St. Mary’s Medical Center will offer 13 birth suites, six antepartum rooms – which offer high-quality care to high-risk patients who have to spend extended time in the hospital due to complicated births, such as a C-section – three triage rooms and a midwifery suite. There will also be two operating rooms to assist with complex births.

Comfort: The birth suites are equipped with whirlpool tubs for pain management and comfort before and after delivery. They also feature floor-to-ceiling windows, all with a view of Lake Superior to create a relaxing atmosphere. Each room has its own infotainment center; these serve multiple purposes – patients can see who their care team is, access the food menu, watch TV and more.

There is a recliner in each room, as well as a sofa that has a pullout bed for partners. Patients also will have access to a mini-refrigerator, a private storage locker and a calming environment that features decorations and artwork inspired by Lake Superior and the beauty of the Northland. This homelike atmosphere is welcoming, inviting and soothing. 

VNL Birthplace“Creating this accommodating space was of the utmost importance to us,” said Dr. Kassing. “Birthing partners play an important support role in the delivery process. Keeping everyone comfortable throughout is paramount and something we think patients will really enjoy.” 

Privacy: Rooms are equipped with a nurse server, or a dual-access cabinet accessible from inside and outside the room. Using this, staff can drop off and pick up linens and other items from the hallway without having to enter the room, ensuring fewer disruptions.

Room design: Each room incorporates feedback from nurses, doctors and certified nurse-midwives to foster efficiency and optimize patient care. Medical equipment is strategically placed so that it’s easily accessible for the delivery team. These set-ups are designed with mobility in mind to enhance monitoring, provide more detailed information throughout the birthing process and offer more room for documentation and care information.

Specialized patient care: There will be three rooms dedicated to triage. Essentia knows labor can occur at any time, which is why these rooms will have in-house doctors staffed 24/7. Every patient will receive triage care when they come in for delivery. This is to assess patient needs to determine the level of care that will be needed before their delivery. In these rooms, patients can be monitored to assess fetal heart rate, frequency and duration of contractions, assess patient vital signs, perform ultrasounds and several other resources to determine the best possible delivery path for the patient.

These private rooms help streamline the delivery process by providing dedicated space, equipment and services to our patients. This will reduce wait times and provide access to more efficient care.

Midwifery suite: The birthplace will have three rooms for patients looking for a more unique delivery experience. The midwifery suite will have 24/7 certified nurse-midwife coverage. The midwifery suite provides a different approach to obstetrical care. Our certified nurse-midwives are experts in low-risk pregnancies, labor and delivery and low-intervention labors.

VNL Birthplace“This is becoming more popular across the country and it’s a need of our patient population in the community who desire this type of care,” said Meghan Sislo, nurse manager of the birthplace. “We know the delivery process is an intimate and personal experience for mothers and we wanted to ensure we could meet their needs.” 

The medical gasses and outlets in the headwalls are covered by movable artwork, giving nurses access to these medical items when needed, but hiding them when not in use to give rooms a more homelike feel. 

Midwifery suite rooms have a very large freestanding whirlpool tub that allows for access to the patient from three sides, in addition to the tub in the bathroom. 

The rooms have a queen-size, drop-down Murphy bed designed for maximum comfort. The ability to pull it into the wall allows the patient, family, midwives and nurses to adapt the room and create more space. 

Having our own dedicated midwifery space in the replacement hospital is something that is not found in many facilities, and there are numerous benefits to providing this model of care and space. Creating a warm, comfortable environment for laboring and birthing your baby in a hospital setting can give patients the added element of safety.  

“The birthplace is not only equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and technology to ensure a smooth birthing process, but our delivery teams are among the best at what they do,” said Sislo.

More information on the birthplace can be found in this short video