Progress continues on Mayo Clinic Health System’s Family Birth Center in Austin

Published 9:57 am Thursday, August 13, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Newborns are being delivered in a new setting at Mayo Clinic Health System’s new Family Birth Center in Austin. The project, announced in August 2018, is part of a plan to reconstruct the hospital’s third floor, which includes a two-story connecting link between the main clinic entrance and the hospital. 

“We are so excited to be moved into the new rooms and have the space needed to provide exceptional, quality care and ensure our patients have positive, lasting memories during their stay with us,” said Crystal Studer, nurse manager of the Family Birth Center in a press release. “It has truly been a blessing to take so many of the suggestions our patients have given us over the years and produce exactly what they have been asking for. The birthing experience for our patients has been completely transformed, and it has been so rewarding to see our staff also energized with the new space.”

To date, these components have been completed:

  •  The obstetrics operating room, which is on the same floor as the birthing center, has been remodeled. This new large operating suite is dedicated to cesarean section deliveries and other emergent labor and delivery procedures.
  • The nursery and procedure room have been remodeled. The new nursery allows for newborn resuscitation in a centralized location within the unit with enough room to accommodate all staff and equipment needed. The central location and multiple doors make it easy to access from any labor and delivery room. The procedure room allows for newborn procedures to occur any time while allowing the nursery to remain open for any emergencies.
  • A remodeled nurses station, which allows for additional workstations for all team members, can be accessed from multiple locations in the unit.
  • Five new labor, delivery and postpartum rooms are complete out of 10 total rooms to be newly constructed, that allow patients to remain in the same location for triage, labor, delivery and postpartum care. All new rooms feature a large private bathroom, refrigerator, couch, gliding chair and plenty of space for visitors. The medical equipment needed for labor and delivery is built into the room design and tucks away into cupboards when not in use. The soothing design and colors of the room allow for optimal bonding and healing. Additional rooms continue to be available to allow for ample space in the Family Birth Center until all 10 rooms are complete.
  • A new nourishment room enables a mother’s support person to obtain coffee, juice, water and snacks whenever desired. Also, food brought from home can be heated up here. This room is currently closed to patients and families due to COVID-19, but refreshments are still available for patients and family upon request.
  • A large equipment room, as well as a supply room, laundry room and soiled utility room also have been completed.

A new mother spends time with her newborn in Mayo Clinic Health System’s Family Birth Center in Austin. Photo provided

Email newsletter signup

Jessi Kirsch, who lives in Albert Lea, Minnesota, and was one of the first patients who delivered her baby in one of the new private room labor and delivery rooms in Austin, said she was extremely nervous about coming to Austin to deliver her second child. 

“Both me and my husband, Ryan, were concerned about traveling to Austin to deliver our baby,” she said. “Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and we were more stressed.”

Kirsch said even with all of the changes in where and how we had to prepare for the delivery of their baby, the experience was positive. 

“We had a very pleasant experience at the Family Birth Center,” she said. “The room was big and comfortable, and the nurses were top-notch. All of the nurses were so patient and supportive, especially our evening nurse, Lacey Koopal, who went above and beyond in helping us with getting adjusted to a newborn ― and even shared websites and informational printouts with us to help us acclimate to our new baby. Everyone we encountered, including the nurses, doctors, anesthesiologist, and even housekeeping, were friendly and accommodating.”

In the future, the unit will feature these amenities once construction is complete in late 2020 or early 2021:

  • An expanded family waiting area that includes amenities for families and visitors; and
  • Easy access from the same elevators that patients use for the nine months prior to delivery.

“The new patient rooms allow for more amenities, such as comfortable seating, bathtub, refrigerator, and additional living space, which makes us feel like we are doing a better job taking care of not only our patients, but also their family and support system as a whole,” said Korbin Grossman, a nurse in the Family Birth Center.

“It’s great to have the equipment needed for the delivery of the newborn built into the design of the room for easy accessibility,” said Alicia Vlasek, a nurse assistant in the Family Birth Center.

The full Family Birth Center project is tentatively scheduled to be complete in late 2020 or early 2021.

About the maternity program

Albert Lea and Austin’s Family Birth Center, which is located in Austin, provides care for low- and high-risk pregnancies. Office visits for pregnancy and post-delivery care are available in Albert Lea and Austin.

Visit the Childbirth Services link on the Mayo Clinic Health System ― Albert Lea and Austin website at to learn more.