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Health

Soothing Atmosphere Pervades New Inova Women’s Hospital

When the 660,000-square-foot tower that houses Inova Women’s Hospital opened its doors in January, it revealed a spacious interior with lots of light, all private rooms, a spa-like feel and, of course, state-of-the-art medical facilities. What patients comment on most, however, is how quiet it is. They say it feels like a hotel, and the hospital administrators couldn’t be more pleased.

As the only dedicated women’s hospital in the region, Inova made sure it was designed from the perspective of women, with plenty of input from focus groups to ensure a female-centric space. For example, family and friends are welcome anytime, and can even stay overnight. The hospital also features family maternity suites, lounge areas on each patient floor, a healing garden with a gazebo, and amenities that include upgraded linens, plush robes and slippers.

“One challenge to developing a hospital like this,” said Patricia Schmehl, RN, MSN, Vice President and Administrator for Inova Women’s Hospital, “is that it has to work financially. You need to have a high volume to support it.”

Luckily, Northern Virginia has the volume. More than 9,000 babies are born at Inova Women’s Hospital each year, and the new facility can even handle a few thousand more. The hospital has long been known for taking on complex cases, and the new building includes a high-risk maternity floor and an expanded antenatal testing center. In addition, Inova Children’s Hospital is also housed in the new space, with its Level 4 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit now better integrated with the women’s hospital.

Caring for Women at Every Age

The hospital was built to care for women at every stage of life. Gynecological care has been a cornerstone of the hospital for years, with its award-winning expertise in gynecological oncology and specialization in pelvic floor disorders. The new facility includes dedicated operating rooms and recovery areas as well as updated equipment that provides the most advanced minimally invasive treatments available.

“We want to be the premiere choice for women in the region by being a comprehensive women’s center,” said Schmehl. She envisions the hospital coordinating and networking with other departments, such as cardiology or orthopedics, to get women the treatment they need. She also anticipates partnering with other departments to hold forums and symposiums on women’s health.

The hospital’s goal to create a soothing, healing environment is evident throughout. More privacy and quiet lessen patient anxiety, which speeds recovery time. Small conveniences, like extra cell phone chargers and business center services, make it easier for family members to stay connected to the office while supporting their loved one. Wi-Fi is also a bonus for high-risk expectant mothers who keep working while on bed rest.

Patients are already taking advantage of these amenities. “We had two sisters who were to deliver their babies on the same day,” Schmehl said. “We were able to give them adjoining rooms because of the luxury suites, so family members could go back and forth between the sisters. They were just delighted.”

More than 9,000 babies are born at Inova Women’s Hospital each year, and the new facility can even handle a few thousand more.

The hospital also has expanded its involvement in the niches around having a baby. “The old facility welcomed doulas if an expectant mother was working with one, but there was no formal system in place,” said Schmehl. The new hospital includes a program where doulas are oriented with the facility. The hospital also includes special suites for mothers’ groups and lactation consultants, plus an entire retail store for breastfeeding supplies. “New moms are even coming back after they leave the hospital to buy their supplies here,” she said.

Schmehl admits to having some nervous moments about how the physicians and staff would react to the new building. “It’s 660,000 square feet, and they have to go back and forth between the hospitals. I held my breath, but they are healthier for it. They all have fit bits, and they comment on how many steps they get each day.” Schmehl is delighted by the positive feedback the hospital receives from doctors and staff. “They don’t just like it,” she said. “They love it.”

As the hospital settles into its new space, additional amenities, such as celebratory dinners and afternoon teas, will be rolled out. Schmehl emphasized that the hospital is still in phase one and more programs and amenities will be evaluated to meet the area’s growing demand for women’s healthcare services.

Inova Women’s Hospital is part of the Inova Fairfax Medical Campus at 3300 Gallows Road, Falls Church, Virginia. For more information, call 703-776-4001 or visit www.inova.org.