By Patricia Deal,

CRDAMC Public Affairs

FORT HOOD, Texas – Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center officially opened its new Women’s Health Clinic at a ribbon cutting ceremony here May 6.

The new 44,000 sq. ft. facility built adjacent to the main hospital is designed to better serve approximately 39,000 women of childbearing age in the greater Fort Hood area.

“We’re here today because of them,” Col. (Dr.) Steven Braverman, CRDAMC commander, said in his opening remarks. “As hospital commander, I have an interest to ensure everybody gets the best care possible. As a father of three high school- and college-age daughters and as a husband of nearly 25 years, I also have a personal interest in making sure that what we’re doing here is what’s best for everybody.

“This new facility is just one of the many ongoing and planned construction projects at the medical center that demonstrates the Army’s commitment to building trust in Army medicine,” he added. “We made a promise in the health care covenant that we’re going to provide the best care possible. This ribbon cutting ceremony today allows us to move from ‘promise-making’ to ‘promise-keeping.’”

While the new center features many desirable amenities such as more space, latest technology and state-of-the-art equipment, Braverman said it’s really more about “comfort” for patients and staff.

“It’s not about improving the quality of care, as we always provide the best quality of care. Our goal is to enhance the quality of the experience so our patients are comfortable, happy and appreciative of the care they receive here,” he added.

In his address to the audience, Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell, Jr., commanding general for III Corps and Fort Hood said that the concept of the new facility fits well with his very simple philosophy, “if we have a happy family, we have a happy soldier.”

“The addition of new facilities such as this fulfills the Army Family Covenant that provides for increasing accessibility to health care,” he said. “It helps build trust, discipline, fitness and readiness of our Soldiers and Family members as we show we are doing the very best we can to care for you in time of need.”

Many, many military moms have trusted Darnall to be the delivery center of choice, as the hospital had approximately 16,000 births in the last six years. Nine months after Fort Hood Soldiers return from deployment, there’s typically a surge in births. The new facility allows the medical center to increase its monthly deliveries from 220 a month to about 250.

The $19.9 million contract to build the women’s center was awarded March 2008, and construction began two months later, but the idea for a new inclusive women’s health center was first formulated more than 10 years ago, according to Col. (Dr.) Elizabeth Spooner, chief, Obstetrics and Gynecology. She said there’s been a demand for more rooms, more space and a more home-like environment for quite a while.

One Fort Hood mother who has probably had the most experience with Women’s Health services at Darnall, said she was impressed with the new facility’s hominess and its many amenities.

Linda Grab, 34, delivered all 13 of her babies at Darnall with baby 14 due in July. She had her first child in May 1995 when women’s health services were on the third floor of the main hospital. Grab will now be among the first women to deliver in the new facility.

“All my experiences at Darnall have been good and the care has been excellent. I’ve seen many changes over the years, but this new facility is just wonderful,” she said. “It has such a homey-atmosphere and is so much more spacious. My mother also comes to my every delivery and we’ll be less crowded in the new facility’s bigger rooms.

New larger and more family-friendly suites on the second floor offer a comfortable environment with each of the nine new labor and delivery rooms boasting approximately 400 sq. ft., a window, large bathroom, personal storage area, and a large sleep area for expectant mothers and their guest.

This design allows patients to stay in the same room for labor and delivery, and for babies to stay with mothers. Special equipment like warmers in the rooms enhances newborn care.

Wireless internet access is available in each room, so pictures or videos of the birth can be shared in real time with spouses who may be downrange or families back home. Patients will need to bring their own laptops and cameras.

In addition to providing more room for labor and deliveries, Spooner said the new facility gives more space to take care of patients and possibly alleviate some of the wait times for routine visits.

There will be 37 exam rooms in the new facility and 10 exam rooms will remain in the current Women’s Health Center allowing providers to have their own exam rooms. The increase in exam rooms will also allow staff to see about 30 more patients each day for routine checkups.

Whatever their wait-time might be for routine check-in procedures, patients will receive a pager so instead of having to stay near the desk to hear their names to be called, they can wait outside on the new patio or in the bright and airy waiting room. A special children’s play area in the lobby also helps enhance the check-in and waiting processes.

The new center has about 100 employees, including 21 midwives who oversee about 70 percent of the births at the hospital. Physicians, midwives, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and certified nursing assistants will form teams and be assigned to each patient and will follow her through her entire pregnancy.

The providers focus on health education, preventive and self-care, and offer genetic counseling, care for normal and high-risk pregnancies, a centering pregnancy program, lactation services, prenatal care, childbirth preparation, ultrasounds and preconception counseling. The majority of OB/GYN services, including labor and delivery, will move to the new facility; however infertility, perinatology, genetics and non-stress testing will remain in the current location.

“Quality of care is important to our patients. Our quality of care statistics at Darnall are as good or better in all areas compared to civilian and military facilities. Knowing that, on a routine basis, we are compared to other facilities and that our quality of care is as good as or better than our civilian counterparts is comforting to our patients and their families,” Spooner said.

In the past, when Darnall did not have sufficient resources, patients were transferred to other facilities for prenatal care, for delivery when the unborn baby or mother is at risk, or for newborns. The design and additional space helps eliminate transferring women in labor to other hospitals and currently no patients are being deferred to the network for delivery.

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The Fort Hood and surrounding communities were invited to attend the ribbon cutting for the official opening of Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center’s Women’s Health Center May 6. (U.S. Army photo by Daniel Cerno, For Hood Sentinel.

Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell, Jr., (center), commanding general for III Corps and Fort Hood, Linda Grab (left), Col. (Dr.) Steven Braverman, CRDAMC commander and Pfc. Lisa Crichlow, 206th MI Battalion, cut the ribbon at a ceremony here May 6, signifying the official opening of Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center’s new Women’s Health Clinic. Also participating are Sgt. 1st Class Falls (far left), noncommissioned officer in charge of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, Col. (Dr.) Elizabeth Spooner, chief, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Joseph Grab (far right) and the 13 Grab children who were all born at Darnall. (U.S. Army photo by Patricia Deal, CRDAMC Public Affairs)

Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbel, Jr., (right), commanding general for III Corps and Fort Hood, and III Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Arthur L. Coleman Jr. (second from left) tour a labor and delivery room at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center’s new Women’s Health Clinic during its official opening ceremony here May 6. Also pictured are Maj. Dorene Owen (left) and Col. (Dr.) Elizabeth Spooner from CRDAMC’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Department. (U.S. Army photo by Patricia Deal, CRDAMC Public Affairs).

Mrs. Linda Grab, mother of 13 children born at Darnall, left, Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell, Jr., commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, center, and Pfc Lisa Crichlow, right, 206 Military Intelligence Battalion, representing active-duty women, cut the ribbon to open the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center Women’s Health Center May 6. (U.S. Army photo by Daniel Cerno, Fort Hood Sentinel.

Children from the Grab family enjoyed refreshments provided by local bakeries and grocery stores and served up by staff from the CRDAMC Women’s Health Center. (U.S. Army photo by Patricia Deal, CRDAMC Public Affairs).