After a three-year hiatus, Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital will reopen its labor and delivery department Monday morning, with an emphasis on its nurse midwife service.
The remodeled, six-bed unit is expected to grow to 13 beds by August, and will eventually serve up to 100 babies per month, said Rose Esty, director of the hospital’s women’s and children’s services.
"There is no other hospital in Tempe," Esty said. "There are no native Tempeans being born here."
The rooms in the $2.5 million unit house cherry-wood furniture and are designed to be a warm, comfortable place where women can deliver babies. Infants will stay in the room with their mothers if there are no complications.
The department’s holistic approach allows women to deliver babies with the help of nurse midwives. They also will be encouraged to relax in the whirlpool spa in their private bathrooms, be attended to by family members — including children — and walk.
"She’s not going to be tied to the bed with electronic cables all the time," Esty said.
The unit’s three nurse midwives expect to deliver about 40 percent of the babies at the hospital. Mothers find midwife-assisted births more satisfying and less costly than physicianassisted births, according to the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
The unit also will have eight registered nurses and one physician.
The unit was closed October 2000 before Tempe St. Luke’s was purchased by IASIS Healthcare, a hospital spokeswoman said.
A labor and delivery department is an important component to a community, said the new unit’s charge nurse Katie Millstone-Baldwin.
"It’s very reassuring to know there is a hospital nearby you can rely on, to know that was the beginning of your family," Millstone-Baldwin said. "It’s someplace you can go back to and trust."