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Nurturing Families

Expectant mothers Jennifer and Beth are excited to deliver at the expanded Family Maternity Center in North Spokane, WA at Providence Holy Family Hospital.

Providence Holy Family Hospital expands its North Spokane Family Maternity Center with tender loving care

Story by Amy Lynn Smith
Maternity Photos by Gary Matoso
Room Photos by Jim Van Gundy

When you’re passionate about the work you do and where you do it, it shows. One look at the remodeled Family Maternity Center (FMC) at Providence Holy Family Hospital in North Spokane, Washington proves the point.

Physicians and nurses all had hands-on involvement in the project—and they couldn’t be more excited to deliver. This is especially true about nurses who work at the FMC and are planning to have their babies in the renovated space.

“I can’t imagine delivering a baby—or helping a woman deliver hers—anywhere else,” says Beth Perez, RN (pictured above, with Jennifer Evans, RN), who had her second baby there in August. “It’s always been a nice place to have a baby, and now it’s even better.”

Expertise and Comfort

The remodeled and expanded FMC doesn’t just have more labor suites—it has more space in each.

Holy Family’s model, which allows women to experience labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum (LDRP) care in one room, is unique to Spokane. Holy Family was the first hospital west of the Mississippi to offer LDRP facilities back in the 1980s, says Jim Brasch, MD (pictured below), an obstetrician. Holy Family physicians were promoting the idea even earlier, when women were typically moved from a labor room into a delivery room and then to a recovery room. In many hospitals, that’s still how it’s done today.

“My father, Joseph Brasch, MD, was one of the obstetricians who would purposely ‘forget’ to tell the nurse a patient was about to deliver so she could stay and deliver in a much more intimate setting,” Dr. Brasch says.

Spokane, WA Obstetrician Jim Brasch, MD, along with the entire birthing center team team, helped design the expansion of the North Spokane Family Maternity Center at Providence Holy Family Hospital.

He adds that obstetricians really pushed for the LDRP model. “They felt it was time for a community-based hospital to have a family-oriented birth center,” Dr. Brasch says.

Over the years, women have been extremely satisfied with the comfort and convenience of the LDRP rooms, with one exception: their size.

“We called them ‘cozy,’ ” says Deanna Berezay, RN, assistant nurse manager at the FMC. “The new rooms have the same homey feel and family-oriented culture, but there’s much more space for loved ones and for our staff to do our jobs.”

This means moms can invite additional family and friends in the room during delivery or to visit after. It also means more staff can be there to assist during delivery if needed.

According to Dr. Brasch, the quality of care at Holy Family is boosted by the larger LDRP suites. “It’s important for everyone to be able to see what everyone else is doing to work together as a team,” he says, “and these rooms make it easier to do that.”

Home Comforts

“Our goal has been to create a home-delivery experience in the safety of a hospital,” adds Ronald D. Hardy, MD, Ob/Gyn. “Women can bring in their own pillows, blankets or photos—whatever makes them feel at home—and we’re here to make sure they’re safe. An attending physician is on-site around the clock, just seconds away.”

The new LDRP suites really do offer all the comforts of home, and then some. There are pullout sofas for dads to stay overnight, as well as DVD players and refrigerators. There are also brand-new furnishings and décor, and jetted tubs in every room.

“I’m really looking forward to having that tub,” says Jennifer Evans, RN, who has had three children at Holy Family and delivered her fourth in a remodeled suite this October.

“The heat and moisture can really help with labor pains, especially if you don’t use an epidural. I’ll be glad to have more options for managing my pain when I’m in labor.”

The expanded Maternity Center will also feature rooms dedicated to other maternity needs (see above). Plus, it will accommodate the growing number of families having their babies here. There are 1,200 babies born at Holy Family each year, with more than 130 just in June 2013.

Designed by Caregivers

Who better than the obstetrics staff to know just what mothers, babies and families need? Berezay is one of the construction team members who helped plan the FMC’s layout.

“We decided what we wanted to keep and what we wanted to add to make it functional for the nurses and beautiful for the patients,” Berezay says. “We all have to live in it.”

In addition to homelike amenities such as in-room refrigerators and jetted tubs, the décor throughout the newly remodeled North Spokane Family Maternity Center at Holy Family Hospital is designed to create a comfortable environment for patients, visitors and staff.One great new addition is that every LDRP room is now fully outfitted with the equipment needed for delivery. That means monitors and devices don’t need to be shuffled from room to room, which can disrupt families after their baby is born.

Many of the comfort and convenience features benefit both families and hospital staff. According to Perez, supplies such as linens can be restocked from outside the room instead of disturbing patients and families by accessing cabinets from inside the room.

Another advantage of the enhanced North Spokane Family Maternity Center is its expanded special care nursery, with two additional beds and more room to accommodate babies who need extra attention after delivery.

“The larger space is going to allow more privacy for moms and dads who are visiting their babies,” Evans says. “There’s also more room for moms to breastfeed or have bonding time with their newborns.”

According to Berezay, the construction team worked to consider every angle. “Because of our passion for what we do, we really tried to think of absolutely everything to make it functional and comfortable for moms and babies,” she says.

Loving Care

As a nurse who has assisted with countless deliveries at Holy Family since 2005, Evans is thrilled about the expanded facility. But she’s grateful it maintains the same philosophy of care.

“Because we have a relatively small staff, there’s the potential of only having two different nurses during your entire stay,” she explains.

“As both a nurse and a patient, I love having that personal relationship and that continuity of care.”

Dr. Hardy agrees. “That’s one of the things I think is often overlooked about the LDRP model, which is such a beautiful, family-oriented model of care,” he says. “The same set of nurses could be taking care of both your delivery and your postpartum care. Patients really appreciate that familiarity.”

Women who have more than one child at Holy Family may notice something else familiar: a photo of one of their babies adorning the walls of the Family Maternity Center.

“We already have a photographer who takes pictures of our newborns,” says Berezay, “so we’re asking families for permission to display some of those photos in the hallways.”

According to Dr. Brasch, in many ways the North Spokane Family Maternity Center is an extension of the idea fostered by doctors like his father and so many others who first brought the LDRP model to Holy Family. “To some extent, we all thought these pioneers had started something, and we needed to complete it,” he says. “The people of Spokane are going to see a workforce that’s reenergized and rededicated to the fine work they’ve already been doing.”


Mark Schemmel, MD, a board-certified obstetrician at Spokane Ob-Gyn. Here, he provides need-to-know answers to top questions from mothers-to-be.Hot Topics for Today’s Expecting Moms

Heart Beat explores pregnancy health with Mark Schemmel, MD, a board-certified obstetrician at Spokane Ob-Gyn. Here, he provides need-to-know answers to top questions from mothers-to-be.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you have for women concerning their health during pregnancy?

A healthy pregnancy depends on a healthy lifestyle. Mother Nature built a pretty good system and it’s maintained the same way during pregnancy as any other time: Eat a balanced diet, get good rest, exercise. When you follow that, you tend to do well.

What about for women who become pregnant later in their child-bearing years?

Women whom we consider “advanced maternal age” can have complications and a slight increase in the risk of chromosomal abnormalities. But the same advice applies: Live healthfully. Most women who choose pregnancy at an advanced stage in life do quite well.

What side effects to pregnancy come as the biggest surprise to women?

The musculoskeletal issues—back and hip pain, joint aches. This is another reason staying active is important. The question is not “Should I exercise?” but “How much should I exercise?” Most people don’t have to lighten their workout regimen except for how much they lift and how high the heart rate gets.

If you could bust one myth about pregnancy, what would it be?

You are not “eating for two.” True, you are eating for more than one, but not for another adult. Most women only need to add about 500 extra calories per day to their typical diet to ensure the body is getting enough to support the baby’s growth.

Are you seeing any trends among pregnant women today that concern you?

Obesity. Our patients are getting bigger and that puts them at increased risk for gestational diabetes and Caesarean section.

In recent years, women who had undergone Caesarean sections were told that attempting a vaginal delivery with the next baby would be dangerous. What is the current stance on this?

What you’re talking about is called a “VBAC”—vaginal birth after Caesarean. While there was indeed a concern that VBACs posed threats to the mom and baby, today’s research indicates that there is actually greater risk for the woman who has more than one C-section in her lifetime. In general,the trend is moving away from Caesarean surgery and back to traditional deliveries whenever possible.

Some women like the idea of planning a C-section for convenience. What is the medical perspective on this?

We clearly need to reduce the rate of C-sections in this country. After all, it is a surgical procedure that lengthens recovery time and carries its own set of risks. Elective C-sections—those that are done for personal preference rather than for medical necessity—should be very limited and individualized. If a mother is simply hoping to avoid a vaginal delivery, granting that should be a very rare phenomenon.

Is inducing labor a better method for allowing a family to choose a delivery date?

Induction is becoming more common, but there’s still a need for physicians to be selective about this. Women who are induced can be at increased risk and may end up having to undergo a C-section. State and national standards now discourage obstetricians from doing induction prior to 39 weeks of pregnancy (one week shy of the baby being full-term)—and again, this should be driven by necessity rather than preference. The bottom line is that it’s a medical intervention and we need to be sure we’re doing this as safely as possible.