By Rose L. Thayer

Fort Hood Herald

The new Women's Health Center at Carl R. Darnall Medical Center opened its doors April 26, providing current and prospective patients the opportunity to see the new facility before it opens for business Friday .

About 200 patients turned out to get a sneak peek of their future care center and get information about the new amenities offered.

"The need was recognized over 10 years ago, and to finally see it come to reality is really a great thing for those of us who work here and the community," said Col. Elizabeth Spooner, chief of the department of OBGYN at Darnall.

The $19.9 million contract to build the women's center was awarded March 7, 2008, and ground was broken in May 2008, but the concept of an inclusive women's health center began as early as 2004.

"There's been a demand for more rooms, more space and a more home-like environment for quite a while," Spooner said. "I'm very pleased to be open today."

Darnall birth rates range between 2,500 and 2,800 annually. The new 44,000-square-foot facility allows the medical center to increase deliveries from 220 a month to about 250.

The increase in exam rooms will also allow staff to see about 30 more patients each day for routine checkups.

The new labor and delivery rooms, which are still under construction and tentatively set to open later in May, are larger and more family-friendly.

Melanie Davis, whose husband is currently deployed with 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, is due June 20.

"I've heard so much about this," Davis said. "Since I became pregnant, everyone's said, I'm so lucky to have the baby in the new facility."

One especially unique feature that has expectant mothers excited is wireless Internet access in the labor and delivery rooms, meaning deployed soldiers can witness the births of their babies via video chat. Patients just need to bring their own laptops.

"I'm really excited about that," said Sgt. Christina Phair, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Division, 1st Cavalry Division. She is due in June and her husband will still be deployed.

"I was going to try and do that anyway, so it's more convenient that they have it here," Phair said.

The old labor and delivery rooms will be turned into private triage rooms. Before, there were only three triage rooms, separated by curtains.

The new center has about 100 employees, including 21 midwives who oversee about 70 percent of the births at Darnall.

The providers focus on health education, preventive and self-care, and offers genetic counseling, care for normal and high-risk pregnancies, a centering pregnancy program, lactation services, prenatal care, childbirth preparation, ultrasounds and preconception counseling.

Contact Rose L. Thayer at or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday

Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center is set to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday to officially open the new Women's Health Clinic at Fort Hood.

The public is invited.

Remarks for the ribbon- cutting will be made by Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell, commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, and Col. Steven E. Braverman, commander of the medical center.

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