By Rose Luna

Killeen Daily Herald

To accommodate the growing volume of women's health care needs, Metroplex Hospital is beginning a campaign to design and build a women's health center, located near the hospital's current labor and delivery department.

Hospital officials project the construction of the wing will begin in 2008, but the initial phase of fundraising has already been set in place.

"We're in the quiet phase of fundraising right now," said campaign chairperson Mary Kliewer. "Not only is it a capital campaign, but it's about the importance of quality of life. We want the women of our area to have premier centers like in Austin or Georgetown."

The cost of the hospital's expansion is estimated at $4.5 million, although Metroplex hopes to raise between $1.5 million and $2 million.

"We need to grow as rapidly as the Killeen community," said hospital CEO Ken Finch.

As a work-in-progess for the past seven years, the women's health center was put on the back burner to address other needs such as the recent tower expansion that features a new intensive care unit.

"It's like buying a car and furniture for your house all at once.

You have to prioritize," Finch said.

"But we're running out of room, especially in labor and delivery."

Traditionally, the need for new space in an obstetrics area is driven from a growth in baby deliveries, but the Metroplex expansion is geared toward women's care at every stage of life.

The plan is to refurbish and update the existing labor and delivery space and surrounding wings for improved patient comfort, aesthetics and work flow.

"We're not necessarily gutting that part of the hospital, but we're putting a whole new face on it," Finch said.

In addition to labor and delivery care, services provided in the women's center would include laboratory testing, osteoporosis care, breast care, women's radiology, oncology care, gynecological care, urological care and a health resource room.

But the emphasis of change will be in the labor and delivery area of the hospital. The growth in the number of births at Metroplex has created an urgent need to expand the number of labor and delivery rooms from five to eight, Finch said.

"In December 2005, we had between 120 and 125 births in just one month," he said.

"We haven't had a peak like that since, but we have noticed a gradual increase in births."

Finch said the spike is probably because of military deployments and homecomings.

In addition to the new labor and delivery rooms, Metroplex will add seven postpartum rooms, all designed with private accommodations.

The nursery will be relocated within the postpartum area, requiring the minimal transport of newborns.

The improvements will allow for more time between a mother and child while providing staff a relaxing environment to teach health and care techniques.

The women's health center also will strive to provide a time and space to create a curriculum for healthy lifestyles.

"We plan to offer Lamaze classes and have prevention material for women health issues," Finch said.

Educational seminars and classes would include prenatal preparation, childbirth education, newborn care, lactation consultation, nutrition and exercise, stress management, women's heart health, life at menopause and disease management for women.

Although the new building will take an estimated 12 to 14 months to build, the fundraising for the project will take three to five years to complete.

For more information, call the foundation office at (254) 519-8307.

Contact Rose Luna at or call (254) 501-7469

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