August 22, 2013
Pregnancy center offers one-stop care for new moms
Swedish's new Lytle Center combines a health clinic with space for retail, fitness, meetings and personal support.
By BRAD HINTHORNE
ore than 100 years before Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, inventor Thomas Edison realized it's far more affordable and effective to promote health than to deliver care.
'The doctor of the future,' Edison predicted, 'will give no medication but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.'
After several decades of vigorous debate, some version of this idea is what we now believe to be the 'future' of health care.
The United States spends more on health care per capita and as a percentage of GDP than any country in the world. We are nowhere near the top in life expectancy or infant mortality rates, two key measures of the efficacy of any health care system. As such, there is unprecedented economic and social pressure in the United States to improve access for more people to higher quality care for less money with better results.
As Edison predicted a century ago, we are now facing the economic reality that it is no longer sustainable simply to provide more care to a growing population with chronic health care conditions, particularly when many of them are preventable.
Instead, we must promote wellness and encourage one another to more actively manage and maintain our health. In theory, if we take care of ourselves, the reduced quantity of care needed can then be higher quality, more affordable and more accessible.
It should also be convenient, holistic, coordinated, and delivered in flexible and innovative environments that are well-designed and support the needs of families, staff and physicians.
The living room has a fireplace
and 20-foot-tall windows that
allow lots of natural light.
One transformative example of an innovative and comprehensive program is the recently opened Lytle Center for Pregnancy & Newborns at Swedish First Hill Medical Center.
Across four hospitals in their system, Swedish delivers about 9,000 babies annually, 6,000 at First Hill, and about 1,000 each at Issaquah, Ballard and Edmonds.
The 5,800-square-foot Lytle Center is located on the main floor of the Swedish First Hill Medical Center, and provides convenient access to integrated services in a single location.
On one side is the 'clinic' for prenatal and postpartum exams and consultations given by nurse practitioners, as well as rooms for minor procedures, psychiatric visits including postpartum mood disorder screenings, well-baby visits and other clinical needs.
Adjacent on the other side of the main corridor, the 'center' includes a living room, classroom space for educational programs, fitness activities, and community and patient support groups, a baby-care station, breastfeeding consultation rooms, space for retail sales of physician-recommended products for new mothers and babies, and an outdoor play space for toddlers. The center is staffed by a multidisciplinary team of specialists including RNs, social workers, RN lactation consultants and patient educators.
The Lytle Center transforms an abandoned cafe into a unique community resource for new mothers and their babies, providing convenient access to a full spectrum of prenatal and postpartum care and services. It's located on the main corridor of the medical center with convenient access to the main lobby and other related services for women and infants.
A public portal
To create a welcoming experience and a refreshed image, a grand fireplace anchors the living room area, surrounded by comfortable furniture and 20-foot-tall windows that flood the space with natural light.
Exterior improvements included a new south entry that will serve as a new public portal to women's and infants services for the entire Swedish system, new two-story exterior glazing to maximize access to daylight, a children's play area on the adjacent patio to provide a fun and safe play area during family visits, and a private outdoor patio for family gatherings.
The interior environment integrates natural materials, a gas fireplace, abundant natural light, and an extensive art program to create a welcoming nonclinical setting for mothers, babies, families and visitors. The project also included extensive modifications to the existing neonatal intensive care unit, which overlooks the center's two-story gallery space through new glass that simultaneously provides visual access and acoustic privacy.
The center is the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and is projected to have 4,000 annual visits and provide a single point of access to all women's and children's services, strengthening community connections and getting babies off to the healthiest start possible.
'Swedish offers top care for pregnancies and childbirth but we recognized we could do even better by putting all of our pregnancy and postpartum services in one easily accessible place,' says Theresa Demeter, director of Women and Infants Services at Swedish.
'Many new moms go home with tons of questions like, 'Am I doing this right? Am I healthy? The Lytle Center for Pregnancy & Newborns provides a central location for pre- and postpartum clinical visits and consultations, and provides much-needed guidance to new and expecting parents.'
The center opened in July and is open to all families and visitors.
Brad Hinthorne is an architect at Perkins+Will in Seattle and has been practicing health care architecture for over 25 years.