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Bayfront Baby Place is just right for moms and dads, too

My mind raced faster than a NASCAR driver hurling into the third turn at 180 mph.

As I wheeled my wife into the hospital, I thought: How long will it take? Should I call her mother? Did I run the dishwasher? Who's playing in the Monday night game?

And I wasn't even the one carrying my first child.

The folks at Bayfront Medical Center have seen all of that before, and worse, so they designed the new Bayfront Baby Place to ease nerves and calm both the expectant mother and the nervous dad.

The 90,000-square-foot obstetrics wing will be housed on the third floor of the new $400 million All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg. Folks can get a look at the facility at an open house from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

They will find paneled floors and walls blended with tiled mosaic flowers. It's neat and clean, but doesn't have the sterile, white glare of some hospitals.

The labor and delivery rooms mimic hotel suites with flat-screen televisions that are perfect for sports — not that I would watch a game while my wife was in labor.

The Andy Griffith Show? Maybe.

Of course, all the medical necessities can be accessed if you know where to look.

For example, kid-friendly pictures cover the outlets where nurses will hook up monitors. Equipment such as oxygen machines is neatly tucked away in cabinets. The bright, overhead lights don't fold down from the ceiling until it's time for the delivery.

The facility also provides creature comforts for those antepartum moms who need to be hospitalized before birth. A fully equipped family room makes it possible for them to cook, do laundry, help their older children with homework or host a shower.

More than 3,400 babies are born at Bayfront every year. Of those, 45 percent are considered high risk, and nearly 500 infants need specialized care at All Children's. Baby Place sensibly brings together the obstetric and neonatal units.

It's nice to see the two hospitals collaborate in a meaningful manner. You can tell young children not to overload their bookbags and put undue stress on their backs and spines.

Or you can replace your stern voice with jazzy singing and snappy rapping, deliver your advice in the form of colorful animation and explain that kids, unlike ants, can't lift 1,000 times their weight.

Essentially, that's what Mike Sexton, All Children's director of creative services, and former All Children's executive vice president Joel Momberg have done for years with Body Toonups, a series of plays that have been performed for thousands of schoolchildren.

Thanks to a grant from Kohl's, animator Kevin Riley brought to life three of the songs from the plays. That brought the upbeat health messages to new audiences, including children who watch WUSF's kid-friendly programming.

And the best news? The trio's effort won a Global Award for creative excellence in health care communications, beating out some of the world's top advertising agencies and drug makers. The winning entry, I Am Not A Little Ant, is hosted by affable Dr. Pete E. Atric. See it at www.bodytoonups.com.

I think the production rivals the legendary Schoolhouse Rocks videos, but I'm a little biased. Sexton was my roommate at the University of Florida back in the day.

That's all I'm saying.

Bayfront Baby Place is just right for moms and dads, too 11/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 11:16pm]

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