New Birthing Center opens at OSF St. Joseph, Bloomington

Photo Caption: Ken Natzke, president and CEO of OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, and Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF, chairperson of OSF HealthCare, take part in ribbon-cutting ceremonies July 29.

By: By Jennifer Willems

BLOOMINGTON — Members of the medical staff and community at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center here celebrated their new addition, a state-of-the-art Birthing Center, on July 29, and this week they helped Steve and Joyce Kretschmer of Bloomington welcome their new addition.

The $17.5 million facility officially opened at 7 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 1, and Easton Wayne Kretschmer arrived at 12:21 p.m. He was born in one of the center’s 12 private labor/delivery/recovery/postpartum rooms and cared for in a 15-bed nursery adjacent to a nurses’ station.

The new model of care being used at OSF St. Joseph allowed him to remain with his mother as much as possible throughout their stay, however.

That’s the way it should be, according to Sister Judith Ann Duvall, major superior of The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis and chairperson of OSF HealthCare.

“This new Birthing Center is about family and it’s all about celebrating the wonderful gift of life and joy that this life brings to us and to our world,” she told those who gathered for the dedication and blessing ceremony last Friday.

“This entire project, I’m sure, seemed a far reach several years ago, but finally it’s here and our OSF St. Joseph family is ready to fill it with care and with love,” she said.

Another goal is to respond to the needs of the patients, their families and the physicians and nurture lifelong relationships, said Ken Natzke, president and CEO of OSF St. Joseph Medical Center.

“This new birthing center gives us an excellent opportunity to carry out our mission,” he said. “By incorporating advanced technology, quality medical equipment and a brand new model of patient care — along with many of the comforts of home — we are able to serve our families with the greatest care and love.”

Among those he thanked were Dr. John and Kathy Wieland for chairing the Delivering Joy Community Campaign, which has a goal of $3.5 million; chief nursing officer Deb Smith; and Larry Wills, vice president of hospital operations, “for sticking with this for the last 53 months.”

“That’s a long labor process, let me tell you,” Natzke said. “He brought this project in on time and on budget and that’s terrific.”

In his turn, Wills thanked the architectural firm of OWPP, the engineering firms of Heideman Associates and Christopher B. Burke Engineering, and Mortenson Construction. Praise also went to the OSF St. Joseph Medical Center staff for going “above and beyond” their normal day-to-day operations to make the Birthing Center a reality.

Leading the blessing of the Birthing Center and the crucifixes that were placed in each room and public area, was Father James Kretz, a senior priest of the Diocese of Peoria who provides pastoral care at OSF St. Joseph.

Tours followed for members of The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, dignitaries and invited guests.

The Bloomington-Normal community, including expectant parents, had an opportunity to attend an open house and take tours of the Birthing Center on July 30.

Ground was broken for the 29,000-square-foot Birthing Center on May 11, 2010. In addition, 5,500 square feet in the previous facility were renovated to form a new obstetrics and gynecological unit.

It is estimated that more than 700 babies are delivered at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center each year.

“It’s amazing,” said staff nurse Mary Beth Ettien of the new facility.

“The staff is all together at one desk — we have been in three separate departments,” she said. “And we’re able to care for the mother in one room. When she comes in at admission she won’t have to move until we discharge her.”

That means a lot to families since most deliveries entail about a two-day stay — it’s three days for those who deliver by Caesarean section.

Sister Judith Ann reminded those at the dedication and blessing ceremony that in times past mothers and babies would remain in the hospital for about five days. Fathers were not allowed in the delivery room and had to leave when the babies were being fed, she added.

“God called our Sisters and over the years he called so many other individuals to share in this wonderful mission of health care,” she said. “We recognize that this is his mission, to love and care for his people, and what a wonderful privilege it is that he has called us to be a part of that care.

“Much has been accomplished in the past and yes, a lot yet needs to be done in the future. For all the good that has been done we give thanks to our God,” Sister Judith Ann said. “For all that lies ahead, we depend on him to be there with us to make it happen.”

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