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St. Francis Hospital Opens New Family Birth Center

April 2, 2024

Recognized as one of the nation's leading maternity hospitals, St. Francis is expanding access to needed care and further enhancing the birthing experience

St. Francis Hospital Opens New Family Birth Center

Today, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (VMFH) announced the official opening of its new Family Birth Center at St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way. The Family Birth Center is part of a $20.5 million investment by VMFH to enhance maternal and neonatal care and increase overall hospital capacity. This is a crucial response to the health care needs of South King and North Pierce counties, one of the fastest-growing and most diverse areas of Washington state and the nation.

“We are excited to open the doors of our new Family Birth Center at St. Francis Hospital this week. This state-of-the-art facility represents our commitment to modernizing health care and meeting the needs of families close to home,” says Ketul J. Patel, Chief Executive Officer of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and President of CommonSpirit Health’s Northwest Region. “By investing in the hospital and the community, we can continue to provide exceptional maternity services and offer the full continuum of care to families.”

The new Family Birth Center features five large birthing suites designed to create a soothing, welcoming environment and provide ample space for care teams to more easily support mom and baby. Each private room includes everything a mom may need to labor as comfortably as possible, including birthing balls, peanut balls, birthing stools, and a support bar on a soft, adjustable bed. The birthing suites also include a large private bathroom and a seating area and bed for members of the family and support team.

The Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is enhanced with new equipment to care for babies born as early as 32 weeks. The center hosts 14 spacious postpartum/antepartum rooms, an operating room, and a designated nutrition area to prepare meals, now all on the first floor of the hospital. 

“The St. Francis birthing team has been serving local families – from Auburn to Tacoma – for more than 25 years,” noted Kelle Dragich, King County Regional Nursing Director for Family Birth Centers at St. Anne Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, and Virginia Mason Medical Center. “We are thrilled to bring this fresh space and the latest equipment in to better serve our growing community and keep building on the culture of excellence our team has set.”

St. Francis Hospital is among America’s Best Maternity Hospitals according to Newsweek magazine and delivered more than 1,300 babies in 2023. Existing Family Birth Center services new families will also enjoy include:

  • Obstetrical care and midwifery services, including board-certified obstetricians, registered nurses, and certified nurse midwives who specialize in labor and delivery and partner with a patient’s chosen provider (e.g., an OB, a family medicine doctor, certified nurse midwife, doulas, etc.) for a unified experience. The center also maintains a partnership with the neonatology team at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
  • Pain medication options as well as support for those who labor and deliver without medications. The Family Birth Center is one of only a few centers in the region to offer nitrous oxide – a practice common in Europe – which is known to help ease pain without affecting the progression of labor.
  • Other childbirth and post-partum support, including high-risk pregnancy care and vaginal birth after cesarean (or VBAC), as well as childbirth and family education classes and breastfeeding guidance.
  • Statewide initiatives TeamBirth and Blue Bands to support mothers along their journey. The “TeamBirth” approach centers patients in all health care decisions made throughout labor, delivery, and postpartum. The Blue Band initiative helps care staff better identify patients with hypertension disorder to ensure they receive the specialized care they need.

In addition to the new Family Birth Center, the hospital created space for an additional 24 acute care beds to further support the community.

About Virginia Mason Franciscan Health

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (VMFH) is an integrated health system serving the Puget Sound region, including 10 hospitals, 300 care sites, and nearly 20,000 team members. Founded in 1891, VMFH embraces its long history of caring for the most vulnerable, especially the poor and underserved, and meeting the evolving health care needs of the vibrant, diverse communities it serves. VMFH is a proud home to the Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the United States designed specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS, and the Benaroya Research Institute, an internationally recognized institution for autoimmune disease research. VMFH is part of CommonSpirit, one of the nation’s largest health systems, dedicated to advancing health for all people.

St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way, Washington, a VMFH hospital, offers a full suite of medical services - from primary and specialty care to emergency medicine - bringing high quality care close to home. Of special note, St. Francis includes a new Family Birth Center, accredited Heart Failure Center, Breast Cancer Center and a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence.