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Focus Stories

Arnold Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies

by Jack Roth

Featured Photo from Arnold Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies

In 2004, more than 11,000 babies were born at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children & Women, which had become one of the busiest labor and delivery units in the nation. The demand for obstetric, gynecological, and children’s services had risen dramatically since the original hospital first opened in 1989, and the hospital was continually filled to capacity. Orlando Health recognized the need for an expansion and broke ground on a brand-new facility dedicated to women and babies. In May 2006, Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies opened its doors.

The new hospital allowed Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to dedicate itself solely to the care and treatment of kids. Today, the two hospitals encompass the Arnold Palmer Medical Center, and a two-story connector joins the facilities and allows for specialized physicians and services to be shared among them.

“We endeavored to create a world-class facility dedicated to the unique needs of women and children decades ago, and as the region has grown, we’ve been able to address all of their specific needs at a very high level,” says Sheila Bystrak, the COO of Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. “We’ve made safety and quality our highest priority, and we take pride in being able to take care of women through every stage of life.”

The 11-story, 400,000-square-foot, multifaceted hospital specializes in high-risk births, taking every precaution and using every means available to ensure the safety and comfort of mothers and babies. The advanced technology and personal care provided in the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) offers premature babies the best chance to thrive and has one of the highest survival rates in the country for low-birth-weight babies.

“A lot of things can happen during the birth process, and our entire staff is trained and committed to giving our patients the best experience possible,” explains Sheila. “Our obstetricians and gynecologists come from a variety of backgrounds and represent a wide range of interests and specialties. They’re totally dedicated and engaged physicians who function as partners with the administration. There’s no hierarchy here; we’re truly one big team committed to the same thing.”

Some of the specialized programs and services available for mother and baby include a breastfeeding helpline; childbirth services; childbirth and parenting classes; the Clifford E. Graese Community Health Library; ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation); gynecological services; the High Risk Maternity Unit; the Hughes Center for Fetal Diagnostics; labor, delivery, and recovery suites; lactation consultants; Level III (the highest) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; Mobile Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; Newborn Extended Care Nursery; obstetrical services; Orlando Health Healthy Woman Program; Pregnancy Care Center; support groups; and the Heart Center.

Specialized services at the hospital accommodate all aspects of gynecological, reproductive, and obstetrical care.

“One of the things we’re extremely proud of is the fact that we have faster recovery rates and reduced complications as a result of our minimally invasive surgeries,” says Sheila. “We’re considered a national leader in this area and have incorporated the latest robotic surgery techniques whose precision is unmatched.”

The hospital, which will undergo a postpartum bed expansion and some room refurbishing in 2016, was created to provide patients with an overwhelming sense of peace, warmth, and happiness. Clinical social workers, health classes and events, interfaith spiritual care, massage therapy, spa services, and nutrition services are all available to meet patient needs. Amenities such as temperature and lighting controls in every room and private rooms with Murphy beds for loved ones to spend the night are all designed with comfort in mind. Concierge service can also be arranged for a number of perks in-room spa packages, gourmet menu selections, upgraded linens and robes all designed to pamper and revitalize patients.

“I absolutely embrace being part of the greatest experience of a woman’s life and being part of a team that provides the best healthcare a woman can possibly receive,” says Sheila. “For Central Florida, the hospital is a realization of what a woman means to her family, and this place is dedicated to them. What we do here represents a significant contribution to the community.”

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