A special delivery arrived at Mount Sinai Hospital in May when four new self-care hospitality suites opened on the Toronto hospital’s 17th floor. The pilot program is designated for pregnant women who are not acutely ill but who are at risk of needing immediate access to care due to a complicated pregnancy.

“Two-thirds of the pregnancies overseen at Mount Sinai are considered high-risk or at risk, and the hospital is one of only a few in the province that provides care to women experiencing some of the most complex medical or fetal conditions in pregnancy,” says Joanne MacKenzie, senior director of women’s and infants' health and nursing at Mount Sinai Hospital, part of Sinai Health System.

Available space in the hospital’s antenatal unit was repurposed to house the suites, which range in size from 214-341 square feet. The pregnant women, or “guests,” as they’re called, can come and go as they please and receive a room key, security bracelet, and pass card to enter the locked unit, which is monitored by volunteers.

To turn the clinical setting into a warm home for women in the days—or weeks—leading up to their deliveries, the rooms were outfitted with home furnishings donated by IKEA Canada, including beds, chairs, tables, shower curtains, and wall art. Four interior designers from the big-box retailer spent a day in July installing and decorating the rooms.

“Working with infection control, support services, and quality and safety personnel at the hospital, we were able to ensure all home furnishings and décor adhered to hospital safety and quality regulations,” MacKenzie says.

Each suite houses one or two single beds (the other is for a family member), a private bathroom with shower, storage space, and a locker for personal items. There’s also a common lounge on the floor with couches, a television, refrigerator, microwave, and an electric kettle.

MacKenzie says the program, which is currently free of charge, provides a home away from home for those who are already in a high-stress situation.

“This self-care hospitality pilot program represents an innovate style of delivering healthcare in a holistic manner where safety concerns, cost efficiency, and effectiveness are balanced with creating a safe, comprehensive care plan targeted at healthy pregnancy outcome,” she says.

Anne DiNardo is senior editor of Healthcare Design. She can be reached at anne.dinardo@emeraldexpo.com.