Story by Bruce Conway & Melanie Veriotes
HIGH RIVER — For expectant moms across the region, an important part of the waiting is over. The newly renovated maternity unit at High River General Hospital is now open, marking the completion of a $1.4-million project.
The High River District Health Care Foundation fully funded the project through its Delivering a Better Experience campaign. The unit officially opened on March 27.
“The tremendous support we have received from donors and community members willing to step up and contribute to this project will both leave a legacy and ensure we have planned for the future,” says Michael Brown, executive director of the High River District Health Foundation, who thanked the community at the opening of the new unit.
The 2,400-sq.-ft. renovation transformed the maternity unit into modern maternity care suites. It also includes four brand-new delivery rooms designed to create a supportive and accommodating environment. Three of these large rooms are equipped with private, built-in labour and delivery tubs.
“The new space is exciting news for the community,” says Shantel Hunter, unit manager of Acute Care at High River General Hospital. “The rooms are second to none and create a more authentic and genuine experience for our parents — and support people to have those first few moments with their baby in a comfortable, relaxing and less-clinical environment.”
The rooms also feature updated equipment to better monitor mother and newborn before, during and after delivery. As well, there’s space for families to be present during the birthing experience.
Expectant mom Jennifer Penman, who’s given birth to four babies at the hospital, says she’s excited by the prospect of having her fifth child in the new unit.
“The rooms are calming and the colours are amazing with lots of light, while still letting you see outside — but you have your privacy,” says Penman. “And there’s lots of room for you and your support people.”
High River maternity provides care for moms from throughout the Foothills — from south Calgary to Claresholm, including High River, Okotoks, Nanton and surrounding rural areas.
The Delivering a Better Experience campaign comes on the heels of the High River District Health Foundation’s successful Cancer Care … Close to Home campaign, which raised $1.6 million for the expansion of the community cancer centre in the High River General Hospital, which opened in 2016.