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Northside delivers center
Early reviews: 'It doesn't feel like a hospital'
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Forsyth County News

Northside Hospital-Forsyth will celebrate Labor Day this year on Aug. 6, when the first baby in 25 years will be delivered in the new Women's Center.

"Just to finally be at this point where we can actually start doing what we've been planning for so long ... is just absolutely exhilarating," said Melissa Sugg, the hospital's manager of women's services. "I can't wait to get started.

"We're just so excited to share the experience and we are so happy to be delivering babies in Forsyth County again."

Family physician Shannon Mize, who delivered the last scheduled baby born in Forsyth County in 1983, said he stopped deliveries because the local facilities were no longer adequate for the growing community.

"I think we did a good job for being as rural as we were at the time," he said. "But we didn't have what we needed ... because Atlanta was nearby."

Though Mize expressed displeasure with how long the state took to approve the hospital and its women's center, both were worth the wait.

"It's absolutely fantastic," Mize said. "It's a very up-to-date facility and ... it's going to be a great asset to our community."

The $40 million center, which broke ground in June 2007, is at the southern corner of the hospital, which is just off Ga. 400 and Hwy. 20.

Every possible amenity an expectant mother could want has been included, from air-jet, whirlpool-style bathtubs to special bathing sinks contoured to a baby's bottom. Postpartum rooms are equipped with flat-screen TVs and showers with seats.

"It's the expectation of Northside to really just do something that's first class, and it's our privilege to bring it here and have it here in the community," said Lynn Jackson, hospital administrator.

Nearly 2,000 babies are expected to be born within the next year in Forsyth. But instead of driving down to the main campus in Atlanta, mothers-to-be will be able to go to the Women's Center.

The 103,000-square foot facility includes the Center for Perinatal Medicine, which specializes in diagnosing and managing high-risk pregnancies.

The center's modern technology offers genetic testing, first trimester screening for abnormalities and early birth defects, and high-resolution diagnostic ultrasonography.

Also in the center are six private delivery and recovery rooms, six observation rooms, seven private pre-operating rooms, three C-section operating rooms and 16 private postpartum rooms.

It's not just the quality of each room, that makes patient care so good, Jackson said, it's the attention to detail.

"The more you look at it, the more uniqueness it takes on, and the more you find out all the little special touches," she said. "Staff involvement was critical to making it a place where every detail was attended to.

"The best thing I'm hearing is that it doesn't feel like a hospital, and that's what we wanted."

Rooms are large, well lit and include amenities like rocking chairs, paintings and sleeper couches.

The postpartum facility has separate lounge areas, including a coffee bar and a play area for siblings of newborns.

A special care nursery, with four Level II Neonatal Intermediate Care Unit rooms and four transition rooms will handle babies requiring extra care.

The nursery includes around-the-clock neonatologist, or newborn pediatrics, coverage and a family waiting area with private showers, personal lockers, pantry space and a resource area.

"Having a baby is probably the most outstanding thing in any family's life," Sugg said.

"We are so totally committed to making it the very most positive experience, whether everything goes absolutely wonderfully as expected, or even sometimes when you have those bumps and things don't go as they expect.

"We want to make sure we do everything we can to make sure they have a pleasant experience."

During a joint chamber of commerce Business After Hours event Thursday, local business and community leaders got a first look at the center.

Both the Cumming-Forsyth County and the Greater North Fulton chambers sponsored the event, which drew more than 300 people.

The crowd made it the most well-attended Business After Hours this year, said Kris Carroll, spokeswoman for the Forsyth chamber.

"Thursday night was a great success, not just as a chamber event, but for Northside and the community," she said. "This beautiful addition has been desperately needed for a long time. We are honored that Northside allowed us to share in this special moment."

For lifelong resident and chamber member Sarah Ohlin, the center was something she "never would have thought was going to happen."

"Honestly, I feel like I was surprised when we got a hospital here in Cumming," she said. "And now to deliver babies in Cumming, I am totally blown away."

Jackson called the facility a "dream come true."

"It was more than we hoped for and it's going to be a great place for families to get a great start."