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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

St. Joseph Hospital renovates maternity center

NASHUA – St. Joseph Hospital has refurbished the rooms where new moms go to rest after giving birth, the latest in a long string of upgrades and improvements to the city’s health care scene.

The flooring, lighting and bathrooms for the hospital’s eight post-partum rooms have all been redone, said Joanna Vallie, director of maternal child health services at St. Joseph Hospital.

“We also renovated the hallways, changed the carpeting, updated the whole look and feel,” Vallie said.

The hospital delivers about 500 babies a year, and Vallie said the renovations are designed not only to make new mothers more comfortable after deliveries, but also to make St. Joseph more attractive to them when deciding where to give birth.

Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, by contrast, delivers about 1,460 babies a year.

The St. Joseph upgrade also includes a new family waiting room, with wireless Internet access and “kid-friendly activities.”

St. Joseph Hospital plans to renovate the labor and delivery rooms later, either this year or next, Vallie said.

The hospital will hold an open house Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Attendees can tour the new suites and meet with doctors, nurse midwives and staff.

Nashua is seeing a flurry of health care-related work, most notably in the January opening of Dartmouth Hitchcock’s huge, 150,000-square-foot facility at Exit 8 off the F.E. Everett Turnpike. The $35 million facility combined services from three sites in the city.

Southern New Hampshire Medical Center is renovating at the old YMCA building on Prospect Street, looking to create a facility specializing in muscular skeletal issues.

The expansions have come even as operating budgets have been squeezed by cutbacks in state funding.

The work has coincided with announcements by the hospital about reductions in staff and services as a result of state budget cuts, which led the Legislature not to pay more than $250 million in Medicaid reimbursements over the next two years.

The work also continues a long trend in health care expansion in the city.

Five years ago, for example, St. Joseph Hospital opened a $25 million ambulatory wing coupled with an expansive new lobby, and in the years before that, SNHMC doubled the size of its emergency department and added a cardiology center and three ambulance bays in an $18 million project.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or