Cali was among the first wave of babies born at the new Eisenhower Family Birth Center, which opened May 27. The 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, located inside the Eisenhower Walter and Leonore Annenberg Pavilion on the hospital’s Rancho Mirage campus, delivers everything needed for the safe, comfortable and transformative experience that giving birth should be.
“It’s a beautiful new unit with the highest care and safety standards, the latest equipment and a wonderful nursing staff,” says Lilia Pacini, MD, the Board Certified Obstetrician who attended Cali’s delivery. Dr. Pacini has been delivering babies in the desert for 17 years and believes that having another birth center available to the community is “ideal.”
The Center’s well-thought-out design includes 14 private labor, delivery, recovery, postpartum (LDRP) rooms. These beautifully appointed rooms are equipped with all the necessary instruments and supplies to care for mother and baby before, during and after birth — so most moms with uncomplicated deliveries can remain in the same room throughout the birthing experience.
There also are seven postpartum rooms and four antepartum rooms. Postpartum rooms provide a quiet environment where families and new babies spend their recovery period in a private setting, under the care of specialized nurses. Antepartum rooms are designed for high-risk patients before delivery to provide constant monitoring of mother and baby and support full-term delivery. The Center also has two dedicated operating rooms for women undergoing caesarian sections, and an eight-bed Level II neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for newborns who require a higher level of care.
Another notable feature of the Eisenhower Family Birth Center is the around-the-clock presence of laborists — obstetrician/gynecologists (OB/GYNs) who specialize in caring for women in labor and delivering babies. The laborist works on site at the hospital and is available for a patient’s care through delivery or until the patient’s personal health care provider arrives.
“Anything can happen during labor, and sometimes it just isn’t possible for a woman’s regular obstetrician to get to the hospital in time,” Dr. Pacini. “So it’s great to have this kind of expert resource available 24/7.”
Fortunately, Dr. Pacini was able to be there for Glancy’s birthing experience. It began in the Center’s triage unit in the early-morning hours of Sunday, October 3, where Glancy’s condition was quickly assessed. From there, she was transferred to a labor and delivery suite where Cali was born, before mom and baby went to a postpartum room for recovery.
“I was only in triage for thirty minutes, at most, in the labor and delivery room for a while, and then I was in an even more comfortable recovery room that had a reclining couch for my husband,” she recalls. She and her new daughter were discharged around 9 p.m. the same day. “We wanted to get home as soon as possible, and they made it happen,” she adds.
During her time in the Center, Glancy was impressed by the facility and the array of resources available. “Everything was so spacious and any equipment that was needed was right there,” she says. “They even had a peanut ball,” she notes, referring to an inflatable ball shaped like a peanut that’s placed between the mother’s legs during labor to help widen the pelvis and provide support.
Glancy had opted to undergo natural childbirth.
“She did great,” Dr. Pacini says of her patient. “She came into the Center actively laboring, which is always nice. Going natural takes a lot of power and strength and tolerance for pain. And she progressed beautifully, with no problems. Everyone involved was very happy and it was, as we doctors say, ‘uneventful.’”
As its name underscores, the Eisenhower Family Birth Center is focused on making childbirth a family-friendly experience. And under normal circumstances, family members are welcome to visit and, with the mother’s consent, be present for the arrival of a new baby. With COVID-19, however, the Center has instituted a stringent safety protocol that restricts the number of visitors to two.
“For the safety of mom, baby and the staff, patients currently can have two support people and they must show a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of vaccination,” Dr. Pacini explains. “In addition, we routinely test all patients who are admitted to the unit.”
In Glancy’s case, her husband and her mother were able to be present for Cali’s birth. “I was okay with that,” says Glancy.
She also notes that, if not for COVID-19, she might have toured the Center in the weeks before her due date. “I didn’t want to walk through the hospital, especially with the talk about a surge,” Glancy says. “But I was able to do a virtual tour on the Eisenhower website and meet some of the staff online. That was reassuring.”
And when she met her nursing team in real life, she says, “I was amazed by them. They were all so knowledgeable and helpful. One even went above and beyond to bring me a treat from the nurses’ station because I was craving chocolate!”
She also gives the nursing staff high marks for supporting her choice to have natural childbirth. “There were things I wanted to do while I labored and I had certain expectations, and they were very open to that,” she says.
We spoke to Glancy just three weeks after she had given birth to Cali.
“We’re both doing well, trying to get as much sleep as we can each day,” she says. “I feel like we’re getting into some sort of routine. We’re so happy she’s here.”
“I’m delighted to hear that,” says Dr. Pacini. “It’s so gratifying to bring life into this world.”
For more information about Eisenhower Family Birth Center, visit EisenhowerHealth.org/Maternity.
When newborns need intensive medical care, they are admitted to a special area of a hospital called the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The Level II NICU at the Eisenhower Family Birth Center, which opened in May of 2021, is special, indeed.
“It’s truly state-of-the-art,” says Jaime Tannenbaum, MD. Board Certified in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine and Director of Eisenhower’s NICU, she helped to design the unit, drawing on her 25-plus years of experience as a Neonatologist at University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, where she also completed her pediatrics residency and neonatology fellowship (UCSF).
“In older units, you generally have to replace equipment as needed,” she says. “Here, everything is brand new and leading edge, and that’s unusual.”
Dr. Tannenbaum believes that one of the nicest features of Eisenhower’s NICU is that each of its eight rooms is a private room.
“I’ve always practiced in units that had an open bay where there was little privacy for families,” she says. “Here, families can spend time alone with their newborn, yet the newborn is fully monitored and connected to central monitoring at the nursing station. Mom can also sleep in the NICU room with the baby, allowing for additional bonding time.
“It’s a unique feature and one that’s very important,” she adds. She also notes that there’s a special double room that accommodates twins. A retractable wall between two private rooms can be opened so families can share one large room instead of two separate rooms. “It’s nice for families to not have to divide their time between their babies,” she says.
Another important aspect of NICU care at Eisenhower is that families are involved in daily rounds.
“Parents are included every day as the care team does morning rounds to discuss each patient’s care for the day and make a care plan for the next 24 hours,” says Dr. Tannenbaum.
And when mom is discharged from the hospital, but her new baby must stay in the NICU for a while longer, Eisenhower offers NICVIEWTM. This technology provides live-streaming video of hospitalized newborns to their families though a secure, password-protected system. The video stream can be viewed on any web-enabled device, so parents and other family members can continue to bond with their infant even when they can’t be at the baby’s bedside.
So, what does Eisenhower’s designation as a Level II NICU mean?
“NICUs typically are designated from Level I to IV,” Dr. Tannenbaum explains. “A Level I unit is essentially for well-babies who needs no additional medical assistance. As a Level II NICU, we can take care of preterm infants born as early as 32 weeks — two months early — and weighing as little as 1,500 grams, or 3.3 pounds. We’re equipped and staffed to provide short-term breathing support, intravenous fluids, antibiotics or phototherapy,” she adds, referring to a treatment for jaundice, a condition that affects about eight out of ten babies born prematurely.
Levels III and IV NICUs are designed and staffed to provide more advanced care for smaller, sicker newborns. Should a baby born at Eisenhower require this higher level of care, arrangements are in place to transfer the infant to another hospital.
Eisenhower’s NICU has seen a steadily growing volume of admissions during its first months of operation.
“While there’s no set timeline, our plan is to continue to develop our NICU to become a Level III unit so we can care for higher-acuity babies right here,” Dr. Tannenbaum notes. “The nurses and neonatologists we’ve hired are all trained for this higher level of care, so we’ve hired for the future.”