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New hospital towers will bring new mothers closer to critically ill infants, serve cancer patients

BJC Healthcare is completing two new medical towers.
Huy Mach
Washington University School of Medicine

Doctors at Washington University will soon be able to provide better treatment to infants in critical care and their mothers.

The Barnes-Jewish Parkview Tower will house patients from the Siteman Cancer Center and the Women and Infants Center. It will be connected by skywalk to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Tower.

That connection will allow doctors to transfer infants in critical condition to the neonatal intensive care unit in the event of an emergency. It will also allow doctors to more quickly unite mothers with their newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“We know that parents and especially moms are very important for every baby getting better, especially when the baby is born prematurely, with birth defects or some other unpredictable problem,” said Dr. Sessions Cole, chief medical officer at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

For years, mothers on the delivery floor have had to travel about eight minutes to their children in the intensive care unit on the fifth floor of Barnes Jewish Hospital South. Administrators say the building puts the delivery unit just 110 feet away from the intensive care unit, allowing mothers to get there  in about 30 seconds.

Doctors say it is important to have mothers near their children in intensive care.

“Skin to skin is really terrific for the baby as the baby transitions and begins to find cues to be able to feed,” said Dr. Alison Cahill, chief of maternal fetal medicine division at Washington University School of Medicine. “There are things that are like that for babies who are born that have additional needs in the delivery room that moms and dads can’t do because babies need additional resources.”

The 12-story towers, also will have a significant focus on cancer patients. The Parkview Tower will add additional rooms and resources for patients of the Siteman Cancer Center — the cancer treatment center at Barnes Jewish Hospital and Washington University.

“The adult tower also will house new facilities for adult cancer patients and will provide operating rooms for low acuity operations,” Cole said.

About 800 staff members and patients made suggestions into the features and technologies that will be included in the building, among them new operating rooms and more private rooms for patients and their families.

The towers also will provide improved spaces for BJC staff. Cole said the new features include robots and communication devices and larger spaces for staff members to meet and collaborate.

“There will be areas in the new buildings where staff members can get together and have huddles, so that the staff members can all have a shared mental model of what’s going on [in] the unit that day,” Cole said.

The labor and delivery service for the Parkview Tower will open February 10 and the St. Louis Children’s Hospital tower will open in late March.

Follow Chad on Twitter @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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