What can I say, I love this hospital. This hospital made me decide to travel hundreds of miles to give birth to my daughter there. Why, you ask?
It all started back in college. I was attending the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fl. My best friend at the time had encouraged me to pick Pre-Med Biology as my major, rather than just general biology so in an en effort to beef up my resume, I started volunteering at a local hospital, the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, during my senior year. This hospital’s sole purpose was to deliver babies and attend to women’s reproductive needs. From the moment, I stepped into that hospital, I was awestruck. I felt like I was in a five-star resort. Over the next few months, I volunteered in the triage department, cleaning rooms between patients and on the Mommy and Baby unit, refilling water bottles for the new moms. Each day I volunteered there, I fell more and more in love with the hospital. Soon after graduation, I moved to Tampa and had the opportunity to shadow a Ob-Gyn on the Labor and Delivery unit. While I enjoyed everything I learned during that time, I quickly realized that all hospitals were not the same. Where Winnie Palmer made me feel warm and bubbly, this hospital felt cold and numb. The triage unit consisted of four beds separated by a curtain (i.e. no privacy), the halls were white and bland, and the labor and delivery rooms looked like they’d been decorated in the 1940s (lots of floral prints, bleh). Up to that point, when I thought of having kids in the far future, I didn’t really think about what hospital I would have them in. I figured I’d just go to whichever hospital was closest to my house. But that Tampa hospital changed my perspective. Childbirth was a natural and normal occurrence. I didn’t want to feel like I was in a hospital when I gave birth; I didn’t want to feel like I was in the same place as sick or wounded people; and I didn’t want to feel like I was staying in my grandma’s guest room (sorry, grandma). So when I moved to Washington, DC, I spent hours looking online at pictures and virtual tours of ALL the area hospitals. In the greater DC area, there a lot of hospitals to choose from, so it just astounded me that every single one of them looked the same. They had the same yellowish wood finishes, floral wall paper, and white floor tiles. The hallways were stark white, narrow, and sterile-looking. I expanded my search outside of the DC greater area and did not have much better luck. After hours and hours of research, I gave up and said “I will have my first child at Winnie Palmer”.
I realize that this post will only appeal to a specific subset of people, namely, those in Central Florida but I loved my experience so much I just have to share. Winnie Palmer really breaks the mold and I wish there were more standalone hospitals that devoted themselves to moms and babies. You’ll see pictures here and there throughout the site, but I’ve added a few here in case you were curious.
When you first walk into the hospital, you are greeted by a water fall entrance which sets the tone for the remainder of your visit. If you aren’t there for a scheduled induction or c-section, you head to the Triage Department where they assess how imminent birth is. Each bed in the Triage Department is in its own private room so you don’t have to worry about other people overhearing personal details. I had a scheduled induction so I skipped the triage and was just given a pager and told that I’d be paged when my room was ready. While we waited, we headed over to the cafe and grabbed some lunch. (I naively thought that would be my last meal before Baby was born.) If you decide to eat from the cafe, you have the option of sitting underneath this huge globe of windows. Such a beautiful atrium! When the pager went off, we were directed to the Antepartum Floor. The rooms in the Antepartum unit were essentially the same as those in the Mommy & Baby floors so I’ll try not to be too repetitive.
The Antepartum room reminded me of a Westin hotel. The bathroom had black granite and neutral wall colors. The actual room had floor to ceiling windows providing patients with panoramic views of Central Florida (or a parking garage, in my case!) which meant plenty of natural light which is good for the body and soul. The husband got to sleep on a Murphy bed that folded out of the wall. Forget having to squish onto a chair that feels more like an airline chair than a bed, those Murphy beds were long enough for the average person and a full sheet set was provided.
Downstairs in the Labor, Delivery, and Recovery rooms, we were given one of the smaller birthing rooms, but even the smallest rooms were decent sized. There was a cabinet near the front door that housed all the newborn equipment (think: scale and warmer), but you’d never know until it was go-time because of the sneaky design. The bathroom had a huge bath tub that you could labor in. I wanted to try it out, but due to the interventions I had chosen, I had to skip out on the bathtub. The floor to ceiling windows were present in this room as well, so you can forget about Seasonal Affective Disorder.
As you can see from the pictures, the rooms are just to die for. I can’t say enough about the design! But room decor doesn’t deliver your baby, does it. Well, when it comes to staff, I must say Winnie Palmer has some of the best care around, hands down. The nurses only deal with moms and babies, with predominantly happy outcomes, so you can tell that they really enjoy their jobs. The nurses that attended to me during my stay were very cognizant that it was a special time for me and did everything they could to make my experience memorable. They were like … wedding planners, except they wore scrubs.
Since the Winnie Palmer predominantly handles childbirths, they always have an anesthesiologist on staff and waiting. There’s no asking for an epidural and having to wait for the anesthesiologist to finish up in an open heart surgery procedure or having to wake up the on-call doctor. From the time I asked for an epidural to the time a team was in my room was five minutes tops.
Finally, for some of the stats of this wonderful hospital. It has a Level III NICU unit, a maternal fetal medicine specialist in-house, and a walkway connection to the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital which is located right across the street. All of the rooms are private and covered by most insurances, but for those that want to splurge, there are upgrade options. For more details on this lovely hospital, you can get the information straight from the horse’s mouth.