Special Delivery

Mary Greeley Opens New Obstetrics & Pediatrics Unit.

By Steve Sullivan

Sarah Potter took one of the most unforgettable rides of her life on Tuesday, September 21.

Three families welcomed  newborns on the opening day  of our new Birthways unit.  From top to bottom:  Sarah & Jake Potter and their daughter Brisia Bell & Chase Martin and their son  Alicia & Adam Heun and their sonEarly that morning, she lay in a patient bed while being transported to Mary Greeley’s new Birthways Unit on the third floor of the west tower from the old unit on the fourth floor of the south tower. Later that afternoon, she delivered a beautiful baby girl named Penny.

Penny Potter now has the special honor of being the first baby born on the new Birthways.

“It’s a fun story that we’ll be able to tell her when she’s older,” said Sarah. “Some hospital staff members came in to congratulate us on being the first birth in the new unit, and for us to see how excited everyone was with us about our baby was so fun.”

Moving day was a busy one on the new Birthways Unit, which features Labor/Delivery/Recovery/Postpartum (LDRP) rooms that can also serve as Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) if needed. A team of hospital staff moved patients, equipment, and supplies into the new unit, all while delivering outstanding care. One mom gave birth to twins early that morning while still on the old unit. She and her newborns were eventually moved to a room on the new Birthways especially designed to take care of twins. There were three deliveries on the new unit that first day.

“Our experience in the new unit was fantastic,” said Sarah. “The room was modern and bright, and a nicer room made for a nicer stay. It was also a giant relief to know that with the tech in the new rooms, even if Penny would’ve required a little extra care—which thankfully she didn’t—she would’ve been able to still stay in our room to receive that care. Knowing that everything could be taken care of right there in our room was reassuring. I want to add, though, that a nice room isn’t the only reason our stay was great—we loved all our nurses and how caring everyone was! Birthways staff is the best.”


Birthways and NICU share a floor on the west tower with Pediatrics, which also moved to the third floor of the west tower. While several area hospitals have discontinued obstetrics care, Mary Greeley is making a significant investment in it. The new space enables Birthways and NICU to provide a supportive and advanced model of care.

“Keeping moms and babies together has long been described as best practice; however, most organizations throughout the United States move newborns requiring a higher level of care to a different area of the hospital,” said Amy Dagestad, director of Maternal Child Services at Mary Greeley. “We took the concepts of rooming in and couplet care and defined a new way to care for moms and babies. Regardless of the level of care mom or baby requires, they remain together. We anticipate that this innovative care model will increase patient satisfaction, decrease length of stay, and improve employee and provider experience.”

Birthways, NICU, and Pediatrics being on the same floor will also contribute to coordinated care, as pediatric hospitalists treat patients in each of these areas.

“Having Birthways and Pediatrics intricately designed, connected, and located on the same floor allows pediatricians and nurses to be near pediatric and neonatal patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to provide high acuity care whenever it is needed,” said Dr. Laura Hufford, McFarland Clinic pediatric hospitalist.

Take a Virtual Tour

Watch a video that features photos of Birthways and some of our friendly staff members.

Here are more details on the new units:

Birthways & NICU

The main feature of the unit is the 23 Labor/Delivery/Recovery/Postpartum (LDRP) rooms that have been specially designed so that babies requiring a higher level of care in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) stay in the same room with family. The NICU was in a separate area in the previous location.

Having LDRP rooms with NICU capabilities is a relatively new model of care. There are only a few hospitals doing this in the United States.

This model focuses on keeping families and their new babies together, with no separation for babies that require a higher level of care. This is intended to decrease anxiety about having a NICU baby, improve communication with the care team, and provide better continuity of care.

Here are other key features of the Birthways/NICU Unit:

  • Color-changing light features for each room, with color choice selected by the patient
  • Larger rooms, with expanded space for families, including a sleeper couch and rocker/recliner
  • Two larger suites to accommodate twins
  • 20 rooms with whirlpool tubs and 3, in accordance with ADA regulations, with walk-in showers
  • A private bereavement suite and waiting room for families who have lost a baby, as well as staff trained to work with those families
  • Two large operating rooms with UV lighting that can sanitize the room when not in use
  • An advanced security system to protect newborns and patients up to 12 months old during their stay in Birthways or Pediatrics
  • Three private rooms for outpatient services
  • A newborn treatment room
  • Lactation Services office with two outpatient rooms to support breastfeeding
  • Large family lounge located near the entrance

Additional details

  • The unit is staffed by board-certified obstetricians, pediatricians, pediatric hospitalists, midwives, and nurses.
  • Mary Greeley is the only hospital in central Iowa to earn the prestigious Baby-Friendly designation from Baby-Friendly, USA. We also have received the Blue Distinction® Center+ for Maternity Care designation, which recognizes high-quality, affordable maternity care.


Main features of the unit include the following:

  • There are eight private rooms. Each room has a magnetic white board where the patient can draw or people can write notes of support.
  • There is an on-unit treatment room used for minor medical procedures. The room is equipped with an iPad to keep the patient occupied during the procedure.
  • A playroom with games and toys for a variety of ages is available.
  • Each room is “animal” themed and features art by Ames watercolorist Jorga Kemp. When a young patient leaves the unit, they will receive a card depicting the animal that corresponds with the room where they were treated.
  • There are color-changing light features for each room, with color choice selected by the patient.

Birthways Features Bereavement Suite, Support

By Carly Cosens, RN, Birthways Bereavement Coordinator

Carly Cosens, RN, and Stacy Peterson, RN, Maternal Child Services manager, are coordinators for bereavement services on Mary Greeley’s new Birthways unit.As a young girl, I was awakened to the harsh reality of loss through the stillbirth of my youngest brother, Colin. When I arrived at the hospital to visit my mother following her delivery, I walked into her hospital suite to find her and my dad snuggling their full-term baby boy. Tears streamed down their faces as they greeted their baby and clung to the priceless memories they were making during their brief time with Colin.

As a bereavement counselor at Mary Greeley’s Birthways Unit, I often think back to this moment and to Colin. That memory forever instilled a yearning in my heart to care for families experiencing this kind of loss.

The moment you first lay eyes on your new baby is a moment to remember forever. This moment, for some, is filled with tears of heartbreak rather than joy as they prepare to say both hello and goodbye to their baby. Being discharged from a birthing unit without your baby is unspeakably painful. Mary Greeley continues its promise to provide the best care possible to their patients in our Birthways Unit by creating a safe space for healing from such a devastating loss.

The new unit features a bereavement-specific labor suite, which includes a state-of-the-art Murphy bed, made available to patients following their delivery. The labor suite is also located away from other laboring mothers to avoid the sounds and distractions associated with birth. This update to the bereavement labor room helps eliminate those triggering memories and emotions that families cope with during this difficult time.

In addition to the bereavement-specific labor room, a family room is also located on the new unit. This room allows visitors to gather in a private setting to visit, collect thoughts, and participate in caring acts, such as bathing baby and collecting footprints and wisps of hair.

Stacy Peterson, Maternal Child Services manager, and I have attended conferences and gone through special training to help people through the experience of miscarriage and stillbirth.

Our efforts will never completely erase the pain of a miscarriage or stillbirth, but our goal is to ease that pain and provide comfort at a time when it is needed most.

Baby Gifts

Birthways project attracts much-appreciated support from donors.

You expect to hear “oohs” and “aahs” on a maternity unit, but it’s kind of special when you hear them before any babies are there yet.

Such was the case when a team from Variety—the Children’s Charity got a sneak preview of Mary Greeley’s new Birthways and Pediatrics Units, which opened in late September. Variety, which has a long history of supporting family care initiatives at Mary Greeley, provided significant philanthropic support for the Birthways project. The team was impressed with the details and scope of the new unit.

“Mary Greeley is taking an innovative new approach to care that puts the family first with this project,” says Sheri McMichael, executive director of Variety—The Children’s Charity. “The project aligns perfectly with our mission,
and it was an easy decision for us to be a part of it.”

The Mary Greeley Foundation’s goal is to raise $1.5 million in support for the $15 million capital project from individuals, granting organizations, and corporate supporters. In addition to Variety, significant gifts were made by the Mary Greeley Auxiliary, Renewable Energy Group, Matt and Erica Campbell, Dr. Joan Grabenstetter, and Richard and Joan Stark. Many others have contributed, including those who have delivered children at Birthways or have had children or grandchildren cared for in Pediatrics.

“Mary Greeley had a vision for an innovative obstetrics unit that would share a floor with our pediatrics unit, effectively bringing our maternal child services together in the same space,” said Melissa McGarry, executive director of the Mary Greeley Foundation. “Gifts from our community have played a vital role in making this vision a reality. We thank everyone who has contributed.”

Had a child at Mary Greeley and interested in contributing to the Birthways project in their honor? Visit www.mgmc.org/foundation/donate/make-a-gift/ for details.