Gifford Medical Center to open women’s health center

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/20/2020 10:30:24 PM

RANDOLPH — Gifford Medical Center plans to open a women’s health center adjacent to the Randolph hospital’s birthing center in the fall, according to a news release on Monday.

Renovations of the 5,700-square-foot space on the south end of the medical center are slated to begin this month and be completed in September. The $1.9 million renovation of space that held the birthing center before it moved down the hall in 2016 will allow Gifford’s outpatient OB/GYN and midwifery services to move into the hospital and out of a free-standing clinic down the street.

“We are a community health provider here in our area and we feel like women’s health (and) the birthing center (are) at the very core of what we need to do to support the people in our community,” Gifford CEO Dan Bennett said in a phone interview.

The move will make it easier for providers to see both outpatients in the clinic and inpatients in the birthing center. It also will make it easier for clinic patients who need to get tests elsewhere in the hospital to do so under the same roof, Bennett said.

The move “helps align our services with everything else we do,” he said.

The new space will not add services, but consolidate existing ones. It will include rooms for procedures; ultrasound; phlebotomoy and laboratory services; as well as provider offices; midwife on-call space; meeting space for nursing and patient education.

Programs hosted in the new center will include private counseling with social workers to address challenges such as housing and food insecurity as well as prenatal and parenting classes.

“We aim to treat a pregnant mother and her family rather than a diagnosis,” Dr. Elisabeth Nigrini, the head of Gifford’s OB/GYN team, said in the release. “For our more vulnerable populations, creating this centralized space with access to education and social services within our center for well-woman care is especially important.”

While several community hospitals in the region have closed their birthing centers in recent years, Gifford has bucked that trend. In fiscal year 2019, 214 babies were delivered at Gifford, up from 188 in FY 2018.

“It really signifies our historical and present and future focus,” Bennett said of the renovation project.

In addition to caring for pregnant women and mothers, Gifford’s OB/GYN team cares for women and adolescents, ranging in age from 13 to 99, assisting with conditions ranging from period management to endometrial cancer.

Elsewhere in the Upper Valley, two midwives aim to open a new free-standing birthing center — Gentle Landing Birth Center — on Buck Road in Hanover later this year.

Midwives Katie Bramhall and Meghan Sperry are in the process of renovating the Buck Road space to create an alternative to delivering at home or at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for pregnant women and their families. The effort got its start in response to the closing of Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital’s birthing center in 2018.

The two midwives are now providing women’s health and prenatal care out of offices on Bank Street in Lebanon, but hope to open the doors to their new birthing center in June, Bramhall said in a phone interview on Monday.

They are still fundraising for the effort through the Lebanon-based nonprofit Women’s Choice in Care Initiative, but have been impressed by the support they’ve received thus far.

“It’s been pretty amazing,” Bramhall said.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.




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