|Not your mother's hospital
Today's maturnity care blending comforts
of home with modern medical services
By RYAN GARCIA
Texas A&M University Relations
Dramatic changes to hospital rooms dedicated to maternity care
may have mothers-to-be thinking they've checked in to a plush
hotel rather than the unfriendly cold, bland room they're expecting,
says a Texas A&M University authority on health care facility
design and environmental psychology.
In what appears to be the trend in maternity care design, more
and more hospitals are attempting to integrate the amenities and
comforts of home with their services, says Mardelle Shepley, a
professor of architecture who's researching the subject. The result,
she says, is single-room maternity care - a concept that's revolutionized
the birthing process, for both patient and provider.
With single-room maternity care, a laboring woman is admitted
to one room where all services are provided for her care, Shepley
explains. There are two models of single-room care: labor, delivery
and recovery (LDR) in one room and labor, delivery, recovery and
postpartum (LDRP) in one room.
"All maternity care rooms being built in the United States today
incorporate some aspects of these models into their design," Shepley
She believes Generation X women will most likely be the first
generation of women to exclusively experience this maternity care
concept - a far cry from what having a baby was like 20 years
Unlike conventional hospital rooms, which might come across as
overbearing with their technology and instruments clearly in view,
these rooms attempt to simulate a home-like environment much like
a hotel room does, Shepley notes. Complete with curtains, dimming
lights, carpeted areas, desks and other accents and accessories,
- even Jacuzzis - single-room maternity care units can be converted
into a fully functional hospital setting at the appropriate time,
Contrary to what some physicians believed, the high-tech look
and feel of hospital rooms wasn't reassuring to patients; it was
intimidating, Shepley notes. She says, these types of rooms often
conveyed illness, but that having a child is a celebration of
life and single-room maternity units are designed with this in
"Most people who have the opportunity to be involved with this
will never go back to anything else," she says.
In transforming hospital into home, Shepley says, these rooms
must strike a balance between form and function. As part of her
research, Shepley is looking into how these types of rooms can
improve upon themselves and find that balance.
For example, in attempting to balance the sanitary needs of a
room with the esthetic aspects, Shepley says designers are utilizing
synthetics such as a wood-like material that is easier to clean.
Carpet can also be used in certain areas of the room in combination
with more resilient flooring, she adds.
These rooms, Shepley says, are designed with the family-oriented
perspective. This approach to patient care has created a family-centered
event where members of the family are welcome and feel welcomed.
Rooms even have a place for fathers to sleep, she notes.
What's more, Shepley notes that these models of obstetrical care
may be more cost-effective for staffing and less expensive to
equip and operate than traditional units.