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Mon, March 18

Women's Health Pavilion will boost families, Prescott Valley economy

Construction on the Women's Health Pavilion and Family Birthing Center at YRMC East is ongoing to the west of the existing building. The hospital expects to open the addition in Spring 2010.<br>
TribPhoto/Heidi Dahms Foster

Construction on the Women's Health Pavilion and Family Birthing Center at YRMC East is ongoing to the west of the existing building. The hospital expects to open the addition in Spring 2010.<br> TribPhoto/Heidi Dahms Foster

For the past 60 years, most babies in the Quad-City area were born in Prescott at Yavapai Regional Medical Center West. That demographic is about to change, as Prescott Valley has a birth of its own with the Yavapai Regional Medical Center East Campus's Women's Health Pavilion and Family Birthing Center.

The center is YRMC East's first major expansion. Data increasingly began to show that 50 percent of the births at the hospital were to moms who lived in Prescott Valley, and the majority were in the area surrounding Prescott Valley, said YRMC East CEO John Amos. Additionally, the west campus in Prescott is landlocked and limited to new growth, but the Prescott Valley campus has 27 acres on which to expand.

Considering the current economy, the ability to construct the new center is a testament to the hospital's careful financial management, Amos said.

"I don't think any of us anticipated the downturn that we're experiencing now, but fortunately the administrative team of the hospital has traditionally been conservative with our investment portfolio. We didn't experience the huge losses that a lot of health care organizations throughout the nation did in 2007 and 2008. The other kind of fortuitous event we had is that we went to the market in 2007 to secure financing for this expansion, and because we have a strong, fiscally sound hospital we were able to get a good bond rate," Amos said.

The competitive construction market also has worked in the hospital's favor.

"We were able to reduce some of our overall expenses for the project," Amos said. "The other thing that was beneficial for us overall from a financial standpoint is that we converted some long-term debt from variable rates to fixed rates so we were able to lock in a good interest rate. So with the timing of the market, converting some variable rates to fixed, and aligning our expenses with our volumes we were able to sustain and maintain a positive bottom line."

Amos said the timing of the expansion also is good for the community.

"The advantage of this project is obviously the benefit to hundreds of families with the birthing center and the women's health facilities. Short term, it's certainly a good boost for our local economy. We're now one of the larger employers in the area. The East Campus in Prescott Valley now employs about 350 people, and we have about 125 physicians on staff here.

"We always prioritize trying to work with local contractors, companies and services, whether it's through equipment or construction projects - we definitely try to make sure we're supporting our local businesses, and this project is consistent with that," he said.

Amos said the birthing center in Prescott is 20 years old, and has no accommodations for family or guests in the rooms. YRMC built the space for expansion into the East campus.

"Traditionally (in Prescott), there were semi-private rooms, and the size and accommodation for family, guests and newborn were not factored into the room. (For the new birthing center) we had a focus group and design team that actually did site interviews and visits, and who took all the current models into our design and development in to create and enhance the healing space from a comfort and functional standpoint," Amos said.

The new rooms in the birthing center will accommodate mom, baby, family and staff.

"We'll have 24 labor, recovery, delivery and postpartum rooms. In this room design there is an area for the bassinette, so the baby can stay in the room when it is sleeping or not being held," he said.

The center will include a 10-bed respite nursery for babies that need special care, and two dedicated c-section operating rooms. The new center also will allow for expansion into specialty areas.

"We have education and training in the process right now in preparation for a future date when we'll be developing and introducing a Level 2 nursery. That will be a seven-bed care unit. That program keeps the higher risk mom and babies in the community, or babies that are delivered prior to full-term," he said.

Amos said YRMC has a neonatologist on staff now.

"That service will be present in the new birthing center, and that will enhance our ability to keep higher risk moms and babies in the community," he said.

The birthing center is only one part of the expansion. The Women's Health Pavilion will concentrate women's health services in one place.

"Ultimately, this footprint is designed to go to 250 beds," Amos said. "We currently have the third floor built and occupied, but in the future, this campus has the ability to have a fourth and fifth floor. The birthing center is the first stage, and the long-term vision is to continue to grow in women's health services. This will be an enhancement for all ages within the spectrum of women's health. That would encompass gynecological health, breast health, women's cardiac health, and inpatient and outpatient services."

YRMC broke ground for the Women's Health Pavilion and Family Birthing Center on January 19. It is a 14-month project, and Amos said the hospital is now working with physicians and agencies to make them aware that the birthing center on the west campus will close in Spring 2010 for the move to Prescott Valley.

Currently, a committe of local Chamber of Commerce, banking, real estate and hospital representatives are helping to recruit physicians and other health care professionals. PV Chamber CEO Marnie Uhl said she hears positive reactions to what Prescott Valley and the entire tri-city area has to offer. She's also excited about what the new addition will offer.

"The babies will be born here. That's always the joy of life. And, I like having women's health services convenient to me, it adds to the quality of health care in the community. The focus of putting everything in on place benefits us all, and we're lucky to have it," she said.

Hospital staff will give a presentation about the Women's Health Pavilion and Family Birthing Center at the Prescott Valley Town Council study session Thursday night at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers on the first floor of the Civic Center.

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