Hiran Ratnayake
Senior Communications Manager
Department of External Affairs
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ChristianaCare’s New Center for Women’s & Children’s Health Brings Transformative New Model of Care to the Delaware Valley

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, state-of-the-art facility opens on schedule, including a NICU that is among only a few in the nation offering couplet care for mother and baby.

When ChristianaCare announced plans in 2015 to transform care for women and infants in the greater Delaware region through a new Center for Women’s & Children’s Health, no one imagined that the new facility would be opening in the midst of a pandemic.

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Despite the challenges of coronavirus COVID-19, the Center for Women’s & Children’s Health opened on schedule, April 27, welcoming women and babies with a transformative new model of care and a beautiful new space that’s built for families.

“At ChristianaCare, we are guided by our values, excellence and love, and we have filled the Center for Women’s & Children’s Health with both,” said President and CEO Janice E. Nevin, M.D., MPH. “With expert care in an environment that is at once innovative and tranquil, we are transforming care for women and families. This facility represents a new standard of care for our community.”

The Center for Women’s & Children’s Health is an eight-story, approximately 400,000 square foot tower at Christiana Hospital, at ChristianaCare’s Newark campus. The center is designed to support and enhance the most up-to-date, evidence-based models of care, with improved integration of services and the space to offer innovative patient-centered care for mothers, babies and families.

“Thank you to the many generous members of our community who have supported the creation of this Center and the health of women and children in our community, including Anesthesia Services, P.A., Crystal Trust, Delaware Subaru, Delmarva Power, Doctors for Emergency Services, the Junior Board of ChristianaCare, M&T Bank, Ronald McDonald House of Delaware and Skanska USA,” Dr. Nevin said.

One of the most significant features of the new Center is a state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), featuring private rooms with sleep-in space for families. It’s one of the only hospitals in the United States to provide “couplet care” in the NICU, keeping the mother and baby together even if they both require medical care. This is based on a European model demonstrating that moms are more likely to breastfeed in this environment, which is particularly important in the early development of children.

Other innovative features at the Center include:

  • New and expanded labor and delivery suites.
  • Private rooms for mothers and families after delivery.
  • A spacious, multi-level Ronald McDonald Room to support families with infants who are in intensive care.
  • Expanded OB/GYN emergency services area and new labor lounge.
  • Separate admitting and discharge areas for the convenience of our patients.
  • A tranquil family rooftop garden that provides spaces for play and relaxation.
  • Vibrant sibling play spaces with interactive displays and artwork, and open community spaces for health education and programs.

“It’s kind of like you’re in a resort,” said new mom Briana Thompkins, who was among the first to experience the Center for Women’s & Children’s Health. “Everything is so fancy and new.”

Christiana Hospital is one of the highest-volume delivering hospitals in the region, delivering more than 6,000 babies each year.

The couplet care model, keeping mothers and babies together, guided design throughout the facility. The building features spacious private rooms for mothers, babies and families after birth with comfortable sleep-in space for the new father or partner.

Twins Gianna and Roni were the first babies in the new NICU.

“It’s nice I can even be here, spend time with them,” said their mother Janet Roth. “Obviously they’re still so little, but it’s great I can even be a presence in the room.”

The new NICU is designed with sound-absorbing flooring, climate-controlled nursery alcoves and other amenities that create a calm, quiet, private place for families.

“The first step in being a healthy adult is being a healthy baby and healthy child,” said David Paul, M.D., chair, Department of Pediatrics. “Health starts right at birth. How you do at birth and how you do in those early years makes an impact throughout your life. We want to keep moms, babies and our community healthy, and this new facility enables us to do that better than ever.”

The Center is also designed to support ChristianaCare’s focus on wellness and on reducing the serious and complex problems of infant mortality, neonatal abstinence syndrome, maternal mortality and post-partum depression. The design of the facility itself, as well as the design of the care that ChristianaCare provides inside and outside its walls, is addressing these challenging issues head-on.

“We are especially attuned to the changing needs of women across generations and how to engage women before, during and after they walk through our doors,” said Matthew Hoffman, M.D., MPH, FACOG, Marie E. Pinizzotto, M.D., Endowed Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “Our community relies on us—and can count on us—to lead the way in women’s and children’s health.”

To learn more about how to have a healthy pregnancy during COVID-19, click on this video that features Dr. Hoffman. To learn more about how to care for a newborn during the COVID-19 pandemic, click on this video that features Dr. Paul.


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