Late this year, moms — and families — delivering babies at Jennie Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs will see a host of new amenities, including Jacuzzi tubs for pain control and a new infant security system, thanks to a $10.75 million renovation of the hospital’s fifth floor.

The hospital currently delivers about 600 babies a year. With the changes included in the project, it will be able to handle up to 1,000.

The 18,000-square-foot renovation project, now underway, will cap efforts to expand the women’s services that Methodist Health System offers in western Iowa and bring them to the standard available at Methodist Women’s Hospital near 190th Street and West Dodge Road, said Steve Baumert, Jennie Edmundson’s president and CEO.

Methodist Physicians Clinic has added two obstetrician/gynecologists in Council Bluffs, bringing the group there to six physicians and a midwife. They’ll be housed on the second floor of a new medical office building to be completed on the hospital campus in June.

They’ll also see patients at outreach clinics in Glenwood, Malvern, Corning and Harlan, Iowa, as well as at the Methodist Physicians Clinic location near 33rd and L Streets in Omaha.

The health system’s maternal-fetal medicine specialists, who care for high-risk moms, will offer expanded hours in Council Bluffs.

Both moves will improve access to care and reduce travel for moms, Baumert said.

Ashley Nihsen, director of women’s services at Jennie Edmundson, said the hospital has worked over the past four years to bring the quality of care offered at the hospital to the same standard as that provided at Methodist Women’s.

That includes incorporating all of the latest recommendations aimed at reducing maternal mortality, which has been a national concern.

“We truly believe we’ve expanded the standard of care that Methodist is known for into western Iowa,” Baumert said.

The renovated unit also is being built for the future. Currently, moms labor, deliver and recover in the same rooms, Nihsen said. The renovated unit will include six private delivery rooms, 12 postpartum rooms where moms can bond with babies after delivery and a cesarean-section suite that will offer moms the ability to hold babies skin-to-skin immediately after surgery. Separate rooms will allow the hospital to handle more deliveries.

Also included will be four Level II neonatal intensive care unit bays, where babies born as early as 34 weeks can be cared for, and expanded space for educational programs that will allow classes to be consolidated in one location.

Julie Anderson is a medical reporter for The World-Herald. She covers health care and health care trends and developments, including hospitals, research and treatments. Follow her on Twitter @JulieAnderson41. Phone: 402-444-1066.

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