Pavilion for Women and Children marks 10 years

Providence Everett’s Pavilion for Women and Children has been open for 10 years, but don’t expect an anniversary celebration.

What with keeping up with health care reform and changes in insurance and just the growing volume of births, there’s been no time to plan a party.

“It would be a good idea, but I doubt we’ll fit it in,” said Frank Andersen, Division Chief of Women and Children’s Services.

If there were a party, the Pavilion would have a lot to celebrate this year.

After being built in 2002 at a cost of $56 million, the Pavilion has grown to become the second-largest of all 23 Providence Health and Services hospitals in terms of volume of babies born.

In 2011, the Pavilion delivered 4,000 babies. This year, the Pavilion is on track to top that number, probably by a couple of hundred. In May, the Pavilion had a record 400 babies for one month.

“It’s a lot of babies,” Andersen said.

The Pavilion was built to accommodate 5,000 births a year.

If rating the quality of care was based on sheer numbers of successful births, the Pavilion would score high. But the Pavilion’s success is not based on volume alone, Andersen said.

For Andersen, the Pavilion scores high because the facility has the ability to take care of moms who have significant health issues and whose babies have serious issues and “have good outcomes.”

“The way I look at it is in terms of bad stuff, and adverse outcomes, but folks do really well here,” Andersen said. “When problems arise they get handled and the team comes together and does it well, and to me that’s the bottom line.”

Andersen said women choose the Pavilion for Women and Children in part because of its aesthetics — it’s a beautiful building inside and out with comfortable rooms, lots of artwork on the walls and a bay of rocking chairs on one floor with a lovely water view — but also because of its comprehensive care, ranging from midwifery programs to obstetricians specializing in high-risk cases.

“It’s very much a soup-to-nuts operation,” Andersen said.

Bobbi Jo Williams and husband Brian chose to have their second son, Silas James, at the Pavilion. First son Nathan is now 22 months old.

For the Camano Island couple, Skagit Valley Hospital would have been closer, but they felt the Pavilion was a better choice.

“It was the best choice from what I heard from the community,” Bobbi Jo, 29, said. “You listen to what other people are saying and that’s where you want to go.”

Silas was born Aug. 13. Like Nathan, Bobbi Jo had wanted to have a natural birth but that wound up not being possible, and Silas was delivered via C-section.

“I wanted a natural birth with both of them and Providence really tried to accommodate that with different techniques, but it ended up in a C-section,” Bobbi Jo said. “They left it up to me, but with their expertise, they were helping me make the right decisions for my baby.”

One of the key offerings at the Pavilion is its newborn intensive care unit, rated as a Level 3 unit that can handle the most premature or sickest babies, such as those who need a ventilator or who are born at less than 34 weeks.

The unit is a partnership with Seattle’s Children’s Hospital and is staffed by Children’s physicians and nurse practitioners.

Andersen said the Pavilion is the only Level 3 nursery north of the Snohomish County line.

“Basically it’s the same care whether you are here or at Children’s,” Andersen said. “It’s pretty cool and it is an important piece.”

On the fourth floor of the five-story building, there’s the Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic, a partnership with the University of Washington where high-risk moms who might have diabetes or high blood pressure or other medical issues get specialized service.

The third floor houses 32 private rooms as part of the birthing unit, where moms experience the “single room” concept of going through labor and delivering a baby in the same room.

After birth, the Pavilion offers a panoply of support services, from lactation specialists to a postpartum clinic.

Also, all babies born at the Pavilion get a hearing screening.

Though hearing issues in newborns are not all that common, early screening can make a huge difference in treating the problem, Andersen said.

Providence plans to start a new program at the Pavilion within the next month that screens newborns for congenital heart disease.

The idea behind the new program is that some heart abnormalities are missed during ultrasounds before the baby is born and this new screening — done when babies are a day old — may pick up those abnormalities initially missed.

The Pavilion was also the first in the Puget Sound region to open a Mother’s Milk Depot where mothers can donate their extra breast milk to babies who need it most, such as preemies.

Also, if your husband is deployed on a Navy ship, the Pavilion can connect husband and wife via the Internet so that daddy can watch the delivery, even if he’s in Afghanistan, Andersen said.

When asked if the number of births goes up nine months after a ship returns from deployment, Andersen sheepishly replied that he couldn’t say for sure.

Before he arrived at the Pavilion, however, Andersen heard anecdotally that when the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier was first assigned to Everett, there was “an incredible boom in deliveries” nine months later.

“We’re busy enough now that it’s hard to pin it down to the arrival of a ship,” Andersen said.

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