MercyOne West Des Moines is “expecting,” so to speak. 

On Oct. 1, MercyOne expects the healthy arrival of a new Maternity & Infants Care Center on the top floor of MercyOne West Des Moines Medical Center. 

The $13 million project, which MercyOne has been quietly planning and constructing over the past 18 months, will occupy the entire seventh floor of the hospital, which was built as unfinished expansion space when the hospital opened 10 years ago. MercyOne plans to hire approximately 30 people to fill a variety of positions for the new unit as the opening approaches. 

The new maternity center, which is being built to handle up to 1,500 deliveries per year, will include a Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which will be able to accommodate babies that are as early as 32 weeks at birth. 

This morning, MercyOne officials hosted a press briefing and tour of the under-construction maternity wing, much of which appears well on its way to completion. 

“As a leadership team, we have discussed the importance of having a comprehensive community hospital here to serve patient needs,” said Phil Harrop, chief operations officer of MercyOne West Des Moines. “By adding birthing services, we will be able to meet those patient needs, particularly those demands of mothers and their infant children who need a place that’s close by to deliver.” 

The project reverses MercyOne’s closure of the original birthing center at the West Des Moines hospital just four years ago. Harrop said the decision in 2016 to close the unit, which had been located on the third floor, “was the right one at the time,” but now population growth trends and the closure of birthing units in some 20 hospitals across the state have changed the equation, he said.

At the time the birthing unit’s closure was announced in June 2016, the 15-bed unit was handling about 300 births a year. Mercy officials opted at the time to shift the west hospital’s OB-GYN services to its downtown hospital and use the space at the West Des Moines hospital for more specialty and elective surgical cases like joint replacement and weight loss surgery. 

With the new maternity center, MercyOne West Des Moines is broadening its relationship with area obstetrical/gynecological physicians, Harrop said. “We believe the greater collaboration with providers and our commitment to offer this enhanced level of care locally will benefit families in our community for many years to come,” he said. 

The new maternity center will include: 
- Five private labor and delivery suites with advanced safety features, including fetal monitoring and infant security systems. 
- Fifteen postpartum recovery suites. 
- Two state-of-the-art obstetrical surgical suites dedicated to cesarean-section procedures. 

The five-bassinet NICU will offer advanced clinical services, leading-edge monitoring technology and specially trained staff. The Level II nursery will provide advanced monitoring for premature and ill infants requiring specialized care. 

The nearly 31,000-square-foot space, which encompasses the entire floor, was designed by BRBW Architects; the general contractor is Graham Construction. Harrop said MercyOne does not yet have any expansion plans for the hospital’s sixth floor, which is the remaining expansion space that was built into the facility. 

Dallas County has been one of the fastest-growing counties in the state, with a population increase of more than 35% since 2010.  

“We know how important a NICU and on-site specialty care are to families making a choice about maternity care,” said Dr. Jona Conklin, maternal-fetal medicine specialist at MercyOne Perinatal Center. “Opening the first NICU in the western suburbs is a further demonstration of our commitment as a comprehensive community hospital.” 

Conklin also extended an invitation especially for moms-to-be: “I encourage all patients who are newly pregnant and have [expected] birthdays in October or later to contact their provider about possibly having their baby at MercyOne West Des Moines.”