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An Operating Theater To Handle Quintuplets: Parkland’s New Obstetrics Suite

Parkland Health & Hospital System

Ten thousand babies are delivered each year in Parkland Memorial Hospital. This year, there was even a set of quintuplets. When the $1.3 billion dollar hospital opens in August, all those newborns and their mothers will be in a large building called the WISH Tower.


If you’re going to deliver five babies at once, Dr. Steve Bloom says it helps to have a little space to maneuver.

“Today, we are hampered by a very small physical footprint,” Bloom says. “The biggest operating room currently at Parkland for labor and delivery is a third of the size of what’s over here.”

The babies might not mind being crowded, but the doctors do. Bloom is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Today he’s showing off the largest obstetrics operating suite – its 650 square feet – at the new Parkland.

“The room was designed with careful attention to having zones with particular airflows and considerations for the different patients that are cared for in a room like this,” he says.

See, the mother and the baby need different things, even different temperatures, after birth.

“One wants to make sure the newborn baby is kept warm after birth,” Bloom says, “At the same time you don’t want to bake the mothers and the surgeons and everybody else.”

So on the baby side of the room, there are radiant heat panels in the high ceiling.

A Modern Day Operating Theater 

In the middle of the operating room at the operating table. Above, bright lights with a camera in the center hover like satellites.


Credit Lauren Silverman / KERA News
The largest obstetrics operating suite at the new Parkland. Cameras in the lights above the operating table make it possible to stream live video for training UT Southwestern medical students.

Linda Castleman, RN, is clinical liaison for women and infants specialty health at Parkland. She says the cameras help medical students learn how to handle complicated, high risk births.

“So we’ll be able to send those videos live to those conference rooms for actual live teaching,” Castleman says.

A sort of modern day twist on the old-school operating theaters.

The surgical operating suite is also zoned in the sense that the front of the room is isolated from the back – separate entrances and exits to prevent contamination and infections. The back exit leads to a large hallway for staff.

If newborns aren’t doing well and need to be transferred to intensive care, they go upstairs to one of 96 private rooms. Jennifer Hill, RN and director of the neonatal intensive care unit, is thrilled to move into the new facility.

“In our current space we have ten patients in one room,” Hill says. “Its a pod, but it is very crowded.”

Hill says private rooms are an important luxury because they allow for more family time and for moms to be more active in babies’ care.  Another healthy luxury? Windows. Unlike in the old building, each neonatal intensive care room has some natural light.

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.