The Langley Memorial Hospital maternity ward is seeing more than births - it's seeing a rebirth.
A $6.5-million expansion to the ward is underway - and new moms can expect to deliver in the comfy new quarters before the end of the year.
Construction on the new Vandekerkhove Family Maternity Centre will create seven additional birthing rooms. Four beds will open in 2013, and another three in 2015, plus the renovation will add room to add three more rooms in future as needed.
"Hopefully, it means that we can accommodate people in the community, rather than have to go on diversion. When we are at capacity now, we have to send them to other hospitals in Fraser Health," said RN Donna Adhemar, who has worked in the maternity unit since 1998 and seen the demand for birthing escalate.
"Things have definitely gotten busier and the acuity of the patient we deal with has gone up," she said.
Adhemar said the hospital staff is thrilled to get the chance to end the frustrating practice of diverting patients and the stress of having to juggle beds and admissions. They're also looking forward to offering an enhanced level of care.
The new units are all "single room maternity care" spaces, where patients can labour, deliver and recover postpartum all in one space. This improves the experience and outcome for mothers and babies, and promotes family togetherness.
The overhaul will allow the maternity clinic, which deals annually with over 10,000 patient visits, to operate next to the maternity ward, instead of in a temporary space in the hospital. The baby nursery will be enlarged, and a new post-surgical recovery room created so mothers can recover with their families, along with additional space for staff. The ward will remain open during renovations.
The post-op rooms and newer level one nursery will also boost patient experience, said Fraser Health director of perinatal clinical operations Tamara Van Tant, who oversees six health authority sites, including Langley.
"Our goal is to keep mothers and babies together after delivery and that includes after caesarean section delivery. Having a room to do this will be even better for our patients."
The maternity ward additions come as Langley's swelling population, with its young family demographic have put pressure on hospital birthing facilities creating an urgent need for new space.
The Fraser Health Authority notes that the ward now sees more than 1,500 births a year - 1,582 in the 2011/12 fiscal year alone.
That number is expected to rise to more than 2,335 by 2020, an increase of almost 30 per cent since 2009.
About 40 per cent of all babies born in B.C. - 15,000 newborns - are delivered the Fraser Health Authority.
Van Tant said regional hospitals have seen births rise at almost all of their sites over the past few years.
"Certainly, the community of Langley has grown. There are more women seeking maternity services who live in the area. More young families for sure."
And those families want to deliver locally, she stressed.
"Communities are really connected with their hospitals, and particularly with their maternity centres," she said.
The new maternity ward is being named after the Vandekerkhoves, the Langley family behind the Super Save Group, which includes gas stations, waste disposal and shredding services.
The family made a $1 million gift to the maternity ward through the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation's fundraising efforts. The foundation provided the bulk of the construction funding, with another $1 million from the Fraser Health Authority for the construction of the ward, (plus an additional $5.5 million from Fraser Health for related infrastructure and operations costs.)
The foundation, which was founded in 1982, and has since raised more than $30 million for the hospital, began fundraising for the expansion in May 2012.
It's vision for the hospital of a place "where every family is welcomed and well-cared for, where no one is turned away because of lack of space."
- Elaine O'Connor is a Vancouver Province reporter.