Nearly a decade of planning and construction culminate Sunday, Feb. 21, when patients move into the new University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Women & Infants Center. Construction began on the 430,000-square-foot facility in February 2007.

   February 19, 2010

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Nearly a decade of planning and construction culminate Sunday, Feb. 21, when patients move into the new University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Women & Infants Center. Construction began on the 430,000-square-foot facility in February 2007.

The $164 million Women & Infants Center represents UAB's commitment to improving the health and lives of the women and infants of this state and region. It also increases UAB's capacity to care for Alabama's women and babies, offering Alabama's only supra tertiary NICU, the most modern C-section and post-anesthesia recovery suites, state-of-the-art patient-care rooms and technologically advanced communication and security systems.

The new UAB Women & Infants Center also offers the full spectrum of women's services, including routine maternity care, gynecology, urogynecology, reproductive endocrinology and infertility services, and the only gynecological oncology program in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi affiliated with a National Institutes of Health-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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"The UAB Women & Infants Center will play an important role in UAB's mission of training future generations of women's health professionals and finding new solutions for health problems that confront women and infants today," said UAB President Carol Garrison. "This facility is truly a complement to the world-class patient care for which UAB is known."

The Women & Infants Center is a departure from most academic medical center architecture. It was designed, first and foremost, to be patient-friendly and family-centered.

"We have worked diligently to determine how best to provide patient care of the highest quality, while at the same time taking into account the need to provide a comfortable, welcoming environment for patients, visitors and the people providing that patient care," said William Ferniany, chief executive officer of the UAB Health System. "In the new Women & Infants Center, we believe we have created a facility that provides both the technology and the health-care setting of the future."

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In addition to the highest level of care for both routine and complex pregnancies, well and sick newborn and gynecologic cancer and problems, the center's focus is on providing patients and families with a homelike setting and amenities that might be found in a top-level hotel. The building's design exemplifies a commitment to patient- and family-focused care. From the moment of entrance, the building - with its glass rotunda and wood, granite and tile mosaic finishes - feels like a world-class hotel. Amenities include curbside valet parking, DVD players, flat-screen TVs, family lounges and play rooms, sleep space in all rooms for a spouse, parent or support person, mini-refrigerators, patient-family computer centers, plus wireless Internet access for guest computers, a lactation facility, laundries and room-service meals. The maternity care and special care nursery facilities also are designed to keep parents of even the sickest infants together, even at night, throughout the newborn's stay.

"During the past decade, UAB has experienced a 50 percent increase in demand for women's and infants' services," said Michael R. Waldrum, M.D., CEO of UAB Hospital. "The new facility will enable us to fulfill the needs of the community by integrating our advanced clinical services under one roof, in a beautiful building that our patients, their families and clinical staff truly will enjoy."

The new center has: 59 antepartum (high-risk obstetrics) and postpartum rooms; 30 gynecology/gynecologic oncology rooms; 17 labor, delivery and recovery rooms; 13 maternity evaluation unit rooms; four state-of-the-art operating rooms for C-Sections and maternity-related procedures; a five-room post-anesthesia recovery unit in which a well newborn can stay with the mother while she recovers from a C-section; 56-baby Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with all private, single-family rooms, including special rooms for families with multiples; a 52-baby continuing care, special care nursery (CCN) with all single-family rooms; three well-baby nurseries on the mother-baby/postpartum unit; lead-lined rooms for gynecology patients treated with radioactive implants; special bariatric/ADA and isolation rooms with specialized ventilation systems; a high-speed tube system for transporting patient pharmaceuticals and supplies plus a separate point-to-point tube system from the blood bank to operating rooms; wireless, state-of-the-art patient monitoring and caregiver communication systems; and the latest and most advanced infant-security system.

One of the most important aspects of the Women & Infants Center for UAB's has been the clinical staff involvement in the building's design. Administrators recognized that the success of a new facility relied on the expertise of the bedside caregivers. Groups of physicians and nurses were involved in the project from the beginning and worked on every aspect of the design to ensure that the building will meet the needs of the patients, their families and the staff working in the building.  

"Caregivers who are on our units every day know what they need to best serve our patients' needs and what our patients need to make their say with us as comfortable as possible," said William Andrews, Ph.D., M.D., chair of the UAB Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "When this process began, hospital leadership made the conscious decision to involve our physicians and nurses in the design process to ensure we had a facility that is technically superior and meets the needs of both our patients and staff."

"It was important for our nurses and physicians to have input into the new building because they work in this environment everyday," said Waldemar A. Carlo, M.D., director of the Division of Neonatology. "It was important for the nurses to be involved because they know and understand the operational issues involved with each unit and how new and larger spaces would affect their work and the care of our patients. And, UAB's newborn intensive-care nursery already produces some of the nation's best clinical outcomes. With the new facility the quality of the family experience is expected to be even more positive."

New also means larger patient and clinical spaces. The C-section suites are about twice the size of the old Jefferson Tower operating rooms. In labor and delivery, the patient rooms are bigger by about 200 square feet, accommodating the larger teams involved with complex or multiple births. The Mother/Baby, Antepartum and Gynecology units also provide patients with much larger rooms and family support space. 

"Our obstetrical and neonatal special-care services have been cramped and housed in some of the oldest parts of the hospital," said Elicia Daley, M.S.N., R.N., administrative director of women and infants services. "The heart and soul of patient care in Women's & Infants' Services revolves around the patient and their family. The larger spaces in this new building not only benefit the clinicians working to treat patients but, more important, offer a warm, welcoming place for our patients and their families."

About UAB

The UAB Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology provides comprehensive care for every stage of life - from routine gynecologic care, to childbirth to menopause and beyond. Its physicians are leaders in their fields in a nationally ranked program dedicated to giving patients the best care available.

The UAB Division of Pediatric Neonatal and Perinatal Medicine provides comprehensive care, with neonatologists on site 24 hours a day, 365 day per year, to care for pre-term babies and newborns with illnesses, including respiratory distress syndrome, neonatal infections, persistent pulmonary hypertension and other illnesses. This division, together with Children's Hospital of Alabama, operates the region's only Level IIIC Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; it provides care for babies born at UAB and also accepts referrals of infants from across the state, the nation and the world. For more information about the UAB Women & Infants Center, go to