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New Parkland Hospital Caters To Babies -- And Moms

Lauren Silverman
The front lobby at Parkland Women's and Infants' Specialty Health unit (WISH). The facility will open in August.

Before any healthy baby can be born, you’ve got to take care of mom. Tens of thousands of moms in Dallas rely on Parkland Hospital each year for checkups and prenatal care. In the new $1 billion Parkland, which opens in August, women are getting their own building that's outfitted with high-tech check-in kiosks and more privacy.

It might not be obvious at first, but even the lobby at Parkland’s Women’s and Infants’ Specialty Health unit is feminine.

Paula Turicch, administrator of women and infant specialty health, points out some of the design features.

“You can see up in the ceiling we have a curved lighting system,” she says. “We have a lot of light fixtures with feminine round features. Some of our Interior finishes include flowers, natural light coming in.”

The WISH tower lobby is the gateway to nearly 100 infant beds, 50 labor and delivery rooms and nine specialty surgical suites.

The outpatient women’s clinic is triple the size of the one at the old Parkland. And, it features new technology – meant to cut down time spent waiting in line: check-in kiosks.

Credit Lauren Silverman / KERA News
Kiosks inside the Women & Infants Specialty Health (WISH) Department at Parkland Health & Hospital System are supposed to make checking in faster.

The kiosks look like sleek ATM machines, where you can enter your information, select a language and skip the traditional check in.

“That leaves a lot of time for our financial counselors to work with the patients who’ve never been with us before and who need a full financial counseling,” Turicch says.

For this giant safety-net hospital, financial counseling is an important part of health care. And the setup across the street, in the old building, Turicch says, is uncomfortable.

“Currently we have little cubicles that are in our waiting room, they’re not very private at all,” she says. “Patients are sitting shoulder to shoulder talking with a financial counselor so it’s quite easy to overhear.”

In the new outpatient clinic, there are private rooms with glass sliding doors.

The exam rooms themselves look pretty standard, although Melissa Amie, director of Women & Infants Specialty Health Ambulatory Services, points out a subtle, but significant update: label makers.

“That tiny little thing is very important for patient safety,” Amy says.

Right now, nurses sometimes label specimens outside in the hallway or lab, and that leaves room for mix-ups.

Credit Lauren Silverman / KERA News
A label maker might not sound like a big deal, but these little machines can help reduce dangerous mislabeling errors.

Goodbye Birth Shuffle

In the old Parkland, doctors like Steve Bloom often have to move moms who are about to give birth.

“Most of our patients today labor in a dedicated labor room, then when it comes time to deliver their baby we have to leave that room, go down the corridor to a delivery room or an operating room,” says Bloom, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“If you could imagine being at the cusp of having your baby, and being told oh by the way we need to move down the hall, that’s not ideal.”

In the WISH tower, labor, delivery and recovery takes place in one of the 48 private rooms. Each is outfitted with a flat screen where you can select meals and watch educational videos – like tips for breast feeding. There’s also standard TV for entertainment…

Just in case the new baby isn’t entertaining enough.

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.