Baby girl is born on opening day at Memorial Hospital Miramar

MIRAMAR--In the hallway, nurses and staffers cheered as they shared the news of the birth of a baby girl.

At most hospitals, a routine delivery wouldn't make the gossip circuit. But the arrival of 6-pound, 8-ounce Mackenzie Cleary at 7:33 Thursday morning was history in the making, for her parents and the hospital.

The 100-bed Memorial Hospital Miramar, on Southwest 172nd Avenue, began accepting patients for the first time on Thursday.

New parents Wendy and Brian Cleary of Pembroke Pines said they chose Miramar because they thought it would be less crowded than Memorial Hospital West, which is based in their home city. They did not know they would be a "first" for the hospital.

"Everything went really smooth," said Cleary, a nurse practitioner who gave birth by Caesarian section. Holding her daughter, she said, "It almost doesn't feel real."

The high-tech, Mediterranean-style hospital west of Interstate 75 is expected to fill a void in Miramar, a fast-growing city of more than 100,000 residents which never had its own hospital.

"We're here to accommodate growth in southwest Broward and the north Miami-Dade area and to decompress Memorial West," said C. Kennon Hetlage the administrator at the new hospital.

Hetlage said he expects obstetrics and pediatric services will be some of the busiest areas. With 18 delivery beds, the hospital expects to deliver about 2,000 babies a year.

About a third of Memorial Miramar's 600 employees were at work Thursday morning. And although traffic from the public was light the first day, by noon surgeons had performed four operations, including liposuction and a tummy tuck; two babies were delivered; and seven patients were admitted to the emergency room.

The hospital is being touted as one of the most high-tech in the nation, with about $11 million poured into technology. Here, radio frequency ID tags track patients throughout the hospital, and nurses use portable computers to log patients' information.

Doctors can call up a patient's entire medical record and can get an instant consultation from a distant specialist who views the records online.

Because of that, technology experts and vendors were on hand in case of any computer mishaps or to answer questions.

Not forgetting the human touch, the hospital offers large private rooms so bigger families can visit, menus feature Caribbean and Hispanic dishes, and new moms can take breastfeeding classes in Spanish.

"We thought about the growing ethnic community on the west side," said Kerting Baldwin, director of media relations for the Memorial health care system. "Whether they're Hispanic or Caribbean, we want to make sure they're understanding their patient care."

Millie Orr, who lives in nearby Silver Isles with her parents, called the hospital a blessing.

When the door opened Thursday, Orr was there with her father, Rodoberto Gonzalez, who was having problems breathing and weakness in his legs.

Orr said she had waited with her dad for hours at Memorial West and decided rather than staying there, she'd try the new hospital.

"It's so close I can jump over the fence and get here," she said. "Here, everything is so modern and cheerful."

Nearby hospitals say they're not worried about the competition.

Dr. Howard Graman, executive director of Cleveland Clinic in Weston, said the hospitals handle different needs.

"Most of the people who come to see our specialists have complicated problems," Graman said.

(source) Sun Sentinel (Georgia East) 3-18-05