EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Kate Laurin, Bay Area Medical Center inpatient director of nursing, was on hand during recent tours of the new hospital in July. She is seen here in one of the nurses’ stations in the hospital, which will open Thursday.
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard

Kate Laurin, Bay Area Medical Center inpatient director of nursing, was on hand during recent tours of the new hospital in July. She is seen here in one of the nurses’ stations in the hospital, which will open Thursday.

MARINETTE — So you’re going to have a baby.

If you have chosen to give birth at Bay Area Medical Center after today, you will be one of the first moms to stay in the Obstetrics Unit at the new hospital on University Drive.

Kate Laurin, BAMC inpatient director of nursing, said the new unit was designed to be comfortable, practical and functional.

The second-floor unit will also provide additional security for moms and the new babies, as it will be locked down to prevent access to anyone other than staff, family and expected visitors.

There are 13 patient rooms, with five Labor-Delivery-Recovery-Post Partum (LDRP) rooms and two post-partum rooms.

Just as in the old facility, a LDRP room allows pregnant women to stay in the same room for the entire birthing process, barring any medical decision to undergo a Caesarian Section.

“There’s a surgical room within the unit,” Laurin said. The sterile surgical suite nearby “is essential, because time is of the essence.”

She said that there is a 30-minute window between the decision to undergo an emergency C-section and a safe surgical delivery, and getting a patient ready and into surgery within that time period is critical.

If a mother is able to deliver in the LDRP room, she and her baby may stay there the rest of her visit. If BAMC gets busy, and there are plenty of expectant moms already planning to have their babies there, the hospital has additional rooms in a secure area of the Pediatric Unit on the third floor.

Laurin said the rooms and the unit were designed in collaboration with the engineers, architects, builders and hospital staff. “We are excited that we get to make it what we want it to be,” she said.

One of the biggest changes was to provide more storage for each patient room and for all of the equipment that is used at some point during the patient’s stay, but stored until needed. With cubbyholes and tuck-in spaces all around the unit, hallways will stay clear.

Laurin said the current OB department was located in “the oldest wing of the hospital” and despite upgrades, didn’t have enough lighting, electrical outlets or space.

That is no longer the case, as the new LDRP rooms have state-of-the-art technology, plenty of space for the hospital staff working with mom and an area for the NICU staff to care for the new baby.

“Now, when the NICU staff comes in, we have dedicated a whole wall (for them). The takeover (of the newborn after he or she has bonded with the mom) will be seamless,” Laurin said.

The OB Unit is in close proximity to the OB Clinic on the same floor — “just steps away,” Laurin said. OB docs needed on the floor no longer have to travel from another facility or even a clinic across the street.

“The lighting in the room is an added bonus,” she said, adding that the lights are set up to shine on the mother from multiple angles, and can be controlled by pointing a wand at the light you want activated.

The day of the move, it will be all hands on deck, Laurin said.

“The team has been very involved in the planning,” she said of the nurses that will be working in both locations Thursday. “We will have eight nurses staffed that day — we usually have three.”

The nursing staff, working with the administrative team and the contractors, spent several years seeing the new unit go from concept to utilization. “Every chance we had to get the team over here, they would come up with things,” she said during a tour of the new hospital.

“We have planned and continue to talk about it,” she said during that interview several weeks before the move. “We will do an excellent job that day.”