Washington Health System’s (WHS) Washington Hospital (Washington, Pa.) sought to transform its obstetrics unit and create a birthing center where families can welcome their babies in a homelike atmosphere while receiving care.

Opened in March 2020, the Care Center for Family Birth and Women’s Health is located on the fifth floor of WHS Washington Hospital and features 13 private postpartum and recovery rooms for obstetric patients and patients who have gynecologic surgery. The birth center also includes five labor and delivery suites, a surgical delivery room, and a nursery with a Level 2 special care area for infants with special medical needs.

DesignGroup (Pittsburgh, Pa.) led the 22,000-square-foot renovation of the obstetrics unit, which hadn’t been remodeled in more than 20 years. The firm worked closely with the Washington Hospital team to project future needs and determine the appropriate number of labor, delivery, recovery/postpartum rooms. From those projections and overall space planning, they were able to consolidate rooms and support spaces to enlarge certain programs to contemporary sizing benchmark standards. For example, postpartum rooms were consolidated, allowing each room to be enlarged by 150 percent with dedicated family alcoves and the family lounge is bigger with a dedicated children’s area with interactive technology.

The project introduced a new finish palette to create a spa-like, hospitality-inspired atmosphere. For example, each postpartum room has a custom millwork panel for signage with pearl iridescent accent tile and brushed aluminum trim. Respite benches were designed throughout the wing to allow families moments of reflection and meditation.

The existing Level 1 well-newborn nursery was upgraded and a new Level 2 continuing care nursery, which allows mothers and babies who need additional care to stay in the same facility, was integrated as part of the project.

The postpartum wing included improvements to 13 patient care rooms, including enlarging seven rooms to better accommodate families and to allow each new mother access to a spacious bathroom. The patient area is expanded to allow rooming-in, which promotes early breastfeeding and encourages maternal-infant bonding, and privacy curtains to separate the other zones. Each room has an adaptable sofa that transforms to support three people, two people with height-adjustable table, and a bed allowing partners to stay through the night comfortably.

During planning, DesignGroup performed a flow diagram of clinical staff and the results showed severe inefficiencies. Throughout a typical shift, unit staff would be constantly bouncing between support spaces located at the end of hallway, patient rooms and between wing nurse stations. By bringing the two nurse stations together into one centrally located unit, the design team was able to anchor all staff support spaces around that station. In addition, from both a safety and security standpoint and ease of wayfinding, having the nurse station closer to the main elevators offers a friendly greeter available to assist visitors immediately. The curved nurse station, with accent blue acrylic, wraps around corners and can be seen from both wings. Also, triage is now closest to the elevator lobby and main nurse station. Labor and delivery rooms are a little further away, which provides an additional level of privacy.


Project details:

Facility name: Washington Health System Care Center for Family Birth & Women’s Health

Location: Washington, Pennsylvania

Completion date: March 2020

Owner: Washington Health System

Total building area: 22,000 sq. ft.

Total construction cost: $5.5 million

Cost/sq. ft.: $249/sq. ft.

Architecture firm: DesignGroup

Interior design: DesignGroup

General contractor: Waller Corporation

Engineering: ReCon Engineering + Dodson Engineering

Builder: Waller Corporation