It is evident upon entering the new Birthing Suite at Hazleton General Hospital that this is not a typical “institutional” setting. The unit greets its guests with an atmosphere of warmth, and this initial impression is not merely a façade. The entire unit has been carefully designed to provide premium patient care and sensitivity to the need for alleviating the stress and anxiety often associated with healthcare service.

The suite contains three beautifully appointed labor/birthing rooms and nine private postpartum rooms. These spaces are designed to be family-centered and staff-friendly. Custom millwork in rich wood tones conceals and disguises the intimidating clinical and medical gases equipment, providing a stately “guest room” feel that reduces the potential stress for new and expectant families without compromising the needs of the medical staff. Even the finishes in the adjacent Operating Room are soft and “feminine,” recognizing that moms are often awake and cognizant of their surroundings during trying moments.

Every element of the space contributes to creating a supportive environment that values family involvement as a primary positive support for mom. Amenities that serve this purpose include a comfortable family waiting area (close to staff) and fully stocked “nutrition” spaces, offering families an option for meals and snacks without their having to rely on the hospital's food service or its schedule. The unit also offers a private hydrotherapy room in which birthing coaches are encouraged to actively participate in this specialized labor management technique.

Project category: Remodel/Renovation (completed December 2002)

Chief administrator: Bernie Rutiger, (570) 501-6017

Firm: Highland Associates, (570) 586-4334

Design team: Charles J. Consagra, Principal; Tracy Nelson Wescott, Project Designer; Denise Luikart, Interior Designer

Photography: Ferdinand Fromholz

Total building area (GSF): 17,500

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $217.14

Total cost (excluding land): $3,800,000