Mercy Medical Center is in the beginning stages of converting a traditional birthing room into a complete bereavement suite.
Director of Maternal Child Services Amy Wright explains, “The bereavement suite is designed to help parents who have lost their child, whether they know coming into the hospital that their child is no longer with them or they encounter some sort of difficulty during labor and delivery…its a place of solitude, serenity, [and] peace. It’s a time for them to grieve without having to leave the room.”
The renovation process will convert an existing birthing room into a comforting hotel-like suite, implementing soft linens, a kitchenette, a fireplace, and soothing colors and pictures.
Wright has taken on the role of leading and organizing this project and explained a few of the elements the hospital is hoping to incorporate.
“Part of the bereavement suite is we will have a cuddle cot, which is a cooling system that helps preserve the baby. It allows the baby to stay with [the parents] in the room for up to several days, and it gives them the gift of time,” says Wright.
The goal is to provide warmth and comfort to parents and families, allowing them to escape from the disheartening hospital environment.
Wright also described the impact a bereavement suite would have on patients and families. “I think it will be amazing for the families, and I use that term very carefully because it’s not a situation that anyone wants to be in. It will just be a great way for them to feel like they’re at home and not in a hospital. They’re here for the medical things…but otherwise it will be more like a spa environment.”
In addition to a proposed Iowa City location, Mercy Medical Center will be the first facility in the nation to implement a bereavement suite.
“There are no other bereavement suites in the area that we know of. They are more common in Europe and the United Kingdom. It’s more of a staple of labor and delivery in those areas.”
Mercy is continuing to fundraise and is accepting donations of any size toward the completion of the project.
To make a donation to the project you can contact the MercyOne Health Foundation by calling 563-589-8772 or make an online donation by visiting https://www.mercydubuque.com/donate and be sure to designate the donation toward the bereavement suite.