Developing the Most Advanced Maternity Program for the Coachella Valley

Featuring: Veronica Williams
The Director of Maternity Services with Eisenhower Health, Veronica Williams, BSN, discusses the new Eisenhower Family Birth Place.


Veronica Williams, MSN, MBA came to Eisenhower Health recently as the Director of Maternity Services and is tasked with developing and creating Eisenhower's new Family Birth Center which is schedule to open in early 2021. Veronica's nursing career has centered around labor and delivery experience and has managed several labor and delivery centers. She is bringing the best resources and most advanced technologies to the creation of Eisenhower's new Birth Center.


Alyne Ellis (Host):  Giving birth is such an intensely personal experience. So, how can a medical facility make this special time in labor meet the needs of the patient, her family and soon, her new baby? Here to tell us more is Veronica Williams, the Director of Maternity Services at Eisenhower Medical Center's new Family Birth Center. Welcome Miss Williams.

Veronica Williams, BSN (Guest):  Well thank you very much.

Host:  So, Eisenhower Health has spent years planning the launch of this new birth center from digging into the data from the area and identifying what's important to women and babies and families to assessing new procedures and facilities and technologies. So, what are some of the findings that you and the other experts considered before you actually began the process?

Veronica:  So, you're correct. For the past I would say about three years, Eisenhower has been looking at the changing demographics in the Coachella Valley, first of all. We have a lot of young families that are moving out this way. And then, we definitely looked at the needs of the community and that we have a multidisciplinary approach as well as you mentioned, multifacility approach. There has been quite a few facilities and programs that I've been able to communicate with and look at what has worked for them as well as my knowledge in the area of labor and delivery. So, yes, there has been a whole lot of thought into where the facility would be located, and as well as the best practices and the best workflows that we could possibly incorporate.

Host:  Well before we get into the exact specifics of that, tell us a little bit more about the planning process and what went into developing the facilities and the offerings.

Veronica:  So, the actual process itself started I would say about three to five years ago. They first looked at what would be the best place to locate the unit. And then, of course, I onboarded as the Director and have been working with the architects as far as their plans to make sure that everything that is required and that we need to take care of the patient is present. So, there have been various meetings from as far as building the workflow for nursing and the physicians. We've also built or helped build the STORK which is the medical record that we will be using. So, we've been working close with EPIC builders to make sure that the workflow, documentation all works as far as what we will be needing. And then, we include everybody pretty much that is part of the facility from our lab to radiology, everybody pretty much has a part in the unit.

Host:  So, let's talk a little bit about not only where you're located but you're inside the hospital and in an area where there are now young families, and we can expect the population to grow again. Is that correct?

Veronica:  Yes. You're correct. So, within the facility, we are located right above the ICU and adjacent to the Emergency Department which are two of our - one of the two units anyway that we work extremely close with. One, because Emergency Department is usually where we see most of our patients coming through. And then the other is the ICU so on those rare occasions where moms need a higher level of care, we are right above that unit. So, we work very closely also to make sure that the workflow to those two units work well for the providers as well as the nursing staff.

Host:  And what are some of the key community needs that you had to meet in planning the program? Was there anything specific about this particular community or what has been working in that community that you can talk to us about?

Veronica:  So, as far as what we looked at in the strategy of where we're located, the east end of the valley that we live in currently is very underserved. So, of course being that Eisenhower is a not for profit organization, that was very important to us that we are located right in the middle and very accessible for patients and their families to receive their care. That was one of the things we looked at. The other is mental health which of course that is an issue in most communities whether it be the Coachella Valley, Riverside County in itself, so we are able to provide follow up for mental health diagnoses. We have a collaboration between the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center, Betty Ford Center, National Alliance on Mental Health Illnesses. So, we are able to provide additional care, guidance, follow up for postpartum depression, or maybe just family wellness overall.

Host:  So, how are these facilities and services different than what's already available in the area? It sounds like there's not much available to start with.

Veronica:  Right, like I said, we do live in a very underserved area and the one for example, endocrinology, we are the only facility in the valley to offer services for diabetic mothers who are having a little bit of a problem getting their glucose levels under control. Our endocrinologist that currently serve the community, are here at Eisenhower so that makes it a little bit easier for them to receive that care. We also provide level II NICU for those babies that may require additional or higher level of care.

Host:  And just describe the facility for me, the number of birthing rooms, and how you deal with the family during the birth and the various things that a woman can expect.

Veronica:  So, our birth center counts with 14 LDRPs which are labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum rooms. They are private rooms. They don't have to worry about sharing a room with anybody. We also have four OBED which are our obstetrical emergency department area where we see pretty much everybody after 20 weeks and provide the care that they would require instead of having them wait in the emergency room with the rest of the population. And then we have two ORs within our unit as well so if we had to do either a scheduled or an nonscheduled Cesarean Section, we have area. Next to the ORs, we have eight private level II NICU rooms which are beautiful. Their colors are not your typical sterile looking hospital rooms. They are beautiful and very colorful. And then adjacent to that, we have 12 postpartum and recovery rooms for our moms. With COVID being here, and I'm sure it will still be around by the time we open, normally, we would welcome the entire family whether it be grandparents, the parents, siblings but because of those changes, unfortunately, the visitations are limited so we encourage that only the partner or support person for the delivering mother join them during the delivery and hopefully stay here during the entire process and are discharged home together.

Host:  Now, starting from scratch, really probably gave you some options you might not have had if you had been dealing with a facility that was already up. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Veronica:  Oh absolutely. It's been quite fun setting up a unit from scratch. We are able to establish higher competencies for our staff. Geographically we are able to choose exactly where we would be located, and we also have been able to recruit our laborists pretty much interviewing each and everyone of them. We have a group of five that will be joining us so, they will be here serving the community 24/7. Even though it is a group, we were able to handpick every single one of them which normally if you already have a unit, that wouldn't happen. And then, we put thought and a lot of research into every single aspect of the unit from our laboring beds to our warmers to our supplies to make sure that it's something different than what is currently in the community.

Host:  Can you give me an example specifically of that?

Veronica:  One example which being a labor and delivery nurse myself, which I thought was great is the labor bed. Normally, for as long as I've been practicing which has been over 25 years; we as nurses always have to break down these labor beds which can sometimes be kind of hard on our backs. And researching beds, we were able to find this bed that not only adjusts to the mom's positions for laboring, but it doesn't have to be broken down. It just kind of slides into place and the nurse doesn't have to worry about carrying a big piece of furniture around to make sure nobody else in the room gets hurt with this or injures her own back trying to break down out bed. So, that's one of the examples.

Host:  Now, you have a very loyal group of Eisenhower Health donors to support this facility. Is that correct?

Veronica:  That is correct. It's amazing how generous and loyal these donors are. I can seriously say that I have never worked in a facility which comes with such generosity. They pretty much come together and try and help and meet the needs of the facility whether it be with equipment or even this brand new unit. I mean if it wasn't for them, I don't think we would be able to pull everything off.

Host:  And besides the labor bed, do you have anything else that as you look over the whole facility as one of your favorite things that you were able to incorporate?

Veronica:  You know there are so many, but I would have to say that the OR is very much the state of the art operating room. We have ultrasound machines in there to help with anesthesia. The tables are different but yet pretty much set to be used anywhere from a patient weighing 100 pounds to maybe 500 pounds. In that same operating room, for emergencies for example, we have the only military grade trauma rapid infuser which in case of an emergency or if we need to give either fluids or blood quickly, that in itself, is a great thing to have.

Host:  So, it sounds like for women that come in and have a birth that has no issues, this could be a great experience and for a woman that comes in and has medical issues or the baby does; that this is just a really vital facility and that her experience would be very different from some of the other places in the area.

Veronica:  Oh absolutely. We as well as the patients would like for everything to go smooth. But sometimes, babies tend to call their shots and our plans kind of change. But yes, we are definitely equipped to take care of simple deliveries to more complex and a little higher risk type of patient.

Host:  So, if a woman in the area knows that her pregnancy is a higher risk pregnancy; how would she reserve a spot to get into this facility?

Veronica:  So, normally if our patients have been receiving care throughout their entire pregnancy and have been seeing community physicians; they would be referred to our perinatologist which is another service we offer. The perinatologist is a specialist which usually tends to see higher risk patients. After that consult, we as a group including the patient would plan the delivery and from the time this would take place to what would be required.

Host:  Well thank you so much for describing this wonderful facility to us, the Eisenhower Medical new Family Birth Center. It sounds very interesting.

Veronica:  Well thank you. It's been a pleasure talking to you.

Host:  Veronica Williams is the Director of Maternity Services at Eisenhower Medical Center's new Family Birth Center. To learn more please visit If you found this podcast helpful, please share it on your social channels and be sure to check the entire podcast library for topics of interest to you. This is Living Well with Eisenhower Health. I'm Alyne Ellis. Thanks for listening to Eisenhower Health, Healthcare as it Should Be.