Starting in August, new mothers will have a chance to multi-task in style in Buffalo, Minn.
The local hospital is unveiling its new birth center, where every patient room will be equipped with an iPod docking station, a flat-screen TV and DVD player, a soaking tub, rocking chair and refrigerator -- oh, and a place for the baby to sleep, too.
Buffalo Hospital has spent $7.1 million to turn its old labor and delivery unit into a state-of-the-art facility to appeal to a new generation of patients.
At maternity wards around the country, that increasingly means catering to patients and families as if they're at "a luxury hotel," as the Buffalo Hospital website puts it.
"The bottom line is, people shop around," said Cindy Oquist, the patient care manager at Buffalo Hospital's new birth center, which holds an open house July 31. "They want some of the comforts of home."
Until now, Oquist said, Buffalo's maternity rooms had little more than your basic hospital bed, chair, TV and VCR. The 12 new ones are decked out in two-toned wood floors, ceramic tile, original artwork (pastels, textiles, mosaics) funded by donors, and all the wireless access one could desire.
About a year ago, Oquist said, "I started asking patients, 'If you could bring a couple of things from home, what would you bring?' Some said, 'A place to play my music,'" and other creature comforts.
With all the fun gear, will new moms be too distracted to bond with their infants?
Oquist isn't worried. "I don't think it will be a distraction," she said. "It's really just meant to enhance the experience for them." The music and setting can be relaxing and therapeutic, she said, just what a sleep-deprived new parent needs.
There's one new feature that everyone can enjoy. Whenever a new baby is born, a lullaby will play throughout the hospital. "We've tested it," she said, and "it is beautiful."
Once again, the family can choose the music: "Baby Go to Sleep" or "Rockabye Baby."
Maura Lerner • 612-673-7384