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Jacobs Medical Center to Deliver Best Start to Newborns and Families


By Christina Johnson   |   June 26, 2015

UC San Diego Health has always provided outstanding obstetric and infant care, and when Jacobs Medical Center opens in 2016, that tradition of excellence will be strengthened and enriched.

baby feet

“Our philosophy is your baby, your way,” said Charles Nager, MD, interim chair of the Department of Reproductive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. “Jacobs Medical Center will allow us to offer women more choices in an advanced specialty care center, designed with the mother and infant in mind.”

Indeed, three entire floors of the 10-story facility will be dedicated to obstetric and infant care, including supportive services, such as non-invasive fetal genetics testing, fertility preservation for cancer patients and early detection and treatment of preeclampsia.

The 509,500-square-foot medical center, located next to Thornton Hospital, will also foster continued collaborations with colleagues at UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering to develop new medical technologies such as epidermal electronics – wearable electronics that can be placed on an infant’s skin to monitor anything from brain waves to skin perfusion.

“This is an exciting time for neonatal and perinatal medicine at UC San Diego Health,” said Lance Prince, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Neonatology at UC San Diego Health. “We are developing new technologies for monitoring babies in a gentle, noninvasive manner, discovering new ways to prevent complications of prematurity and advancing treatments for diseases that once had no therapies, all while emphasizing a family-centered environment that fosters bonding between families and their newborn infant.”

Though all 245 patient rooms in Jacobs Medical Center are private and spacious with floor-to-ceiling windows for natural light, new mothers will arguably get the best views in the hospital as all 32 post-partum rooms are located on the tenth floor. Each of these rooms has either a stunning view of the surrounding La Jolla area or an intimate, soothing view of the terraced garden on that floor.

One floor down from the post-partum rooms will be labor and delivery rooms, operating rooms for cesarean section deliveries and a Birth Center, staffed by midwives and modelled after the very popular Birth Center at UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest. Each room in the Birth Center will have a built-in birthing tub and other features to support a natural childbirth experience.

hugging babies

“Our goal is to create a home-like setting for women and infants, nestled within a modern medical facility where highly specialized care is only moments away,” said Nager who is also co-director of women’s pelvic medicine at UC San Diego Health. “There is also more space for family visits with a modern, warm feel.”

A major focus of the new facility will be to advance care for premature and critically ill newborns. To this end, the entire eighth floor is being customized to support a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with 52 private rooms, each with a foldout bed for a family member.

“Having an infant in intensive care is an emotional time for family members,” said Erika Fernandez, MD, interim medical director of the NICU at UC San Diego Health. “Being able to close the door and have privacy can be very calming for a family.”

The private NICU rooms are designed to meet the best-practices for reducing an infant’s chances of infection. It is also hoped they will nurture a high-touch environment for the infant.

“The womb is not a quiet place for the fetus,” said Jae H. Kim, MD, PhD, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “The fetus is constantly hearing the mother’s heartbeat, breathing and voice. The fetus can detect changes in light. We want the private NICU rooms to be a stimulating, nurturing environment that will activate the baby’s brain.”

Kim added a mother’s touch and voice can reduce the infant’s heart rate and improve cognitive development.

“We want the babies to be held and talked to as much as possible and fed mother’s milk, even if it is through a feeding tube or from a donor mother,” said Kim.

The NICU floor also includes a living room, where families can gather and find support from others going through the same experience.

“When I think about Jacobs Medical Center, I often think about the beauty of the environment and the building and how this will make a family and patient feel,” Fernandez said. “The views are calming and tranquil. We’ve even selected equipment with its feel and look in mind. All parts of the space have been designed to give the baby and family the best start.”

Care at UC San Diego Health

Obstetrics & Gynecology