New Shawnee Mission birth center opens

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MERRIAM, Kan. -- Close to four thousand babies a year are born at Shawnee Mission Medical Center. That's the most of any metro hospital. Now, there's a new place for all that new life. The 44-million-dollar birth center is open. It's really a hospital in itself with a separate lobby and boutique for mom and baby.

The labor and delivery rooms as well as the mother and baby rooms are all on the outside of corridors so natural light comes in -- soothing for moms. For pampering, there's the bathroom with spa-like amenities including backlit mirrors. And to impress dads, there are sleeper couches.

"We know sometimes they're going to spend quite a bit of time with us before baby arrives, so again just making sure we provide that comfort for families," says Denise Martinek, Executive Director for Women's and Children's Services.

Hospitals know that a good birth experience will have families coming back for other health care.

But most impressive to some parents is the neonatal intensive care unit where premature babies receive care -- often for months.
Shawnee Mission's old unit was one big room. The new unit has a room for each baby.

Darrin May and wife, Rena, have babies in two rooms. Their twins, Scott and Tanner, arrived nine weeks early. Darrin says the private rooms give the babies peace and quiet which is important as they gain strength.

"There's not a lot of bang, bang -- whistles going off with other children that need care, too," says Darrin.

A few steps away, there's a family room where parents can eat, take a shower or just relax a bit before returning to their baby's room.

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