NWA Birth Center a Labor of Love

by Serenah McKay  on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 8:30 am  

Shannon Bedore had her first child by cesarean section, her second in a natural birth at a hospital, and her third one at home.

Though grateful her children are healthy, the Bentonville mom, who works on the health and wellness team at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., felt something was lacking in each of the birth experiences.

 “So I felt like, wouldn’t it be great if women had options,” she said, “where they could deliver babies the way that they wanted to, and the way that they were in control of this very natural wellness process, and do it in a way that had physician backup and had integration within the current medical system.”

Bedore and business partner Cara Osborne, an assistant professor at the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing at the University of Arkansas and a Certified Nurse Midwife, shared this vision for an alternative birthing option in the region.

“There was a time that Cara and I were sitting around saying someone needs to do something about this and something should happen, and we kept telling people that they should do it, and no one was doing it,” Bedore said.

Finally, she said, they realized it was going to be up to them to make it happen. That’s how they conceived the idea for the Birth Center of Northwest Arkansas, which they envision as not only a mom-friendly place to give birth, but also a business model that can be replicated nationwide to lower health care costs while improving outcomes.

The center is scheduled to open in Rogers in the first quarter of 2013. It will occupy a 3,500-SF suite at 5302 Village Parkway, Suite 3, in the Village on the Creeks retail and office complex. When remodeling is complete, the center will have three homey birth rooms, each with its own bathroom, as well as exam rooms, a full kitchen and office space.

Prenatal, delivery and postpartum care will be provided by three CNMs, who also will offer women’s annual wellness exams. Plus, family-medicine doctors at nearby Mercy Medical Center will be available for consult or backup if needed.

Education will be a big feature of the birth center, Osborne said, with classes like Lamaze, prenatal yoga and parenting, along with breastfeeding support.

Although there are about 300 such centers in the U.S., this will be the only one of its kind in Arkansas, said Osborne, who earned a master’s degree and doctorate in maternal and child health at Harvard.

 The birth center is an option for healthy women with low-risk pregnancies, she said. That’s about 85 percent of all pregnancies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The center’s also a community effort, Osborne said, with private donations supplementing the personal funds she and Bedore are putting into the project. They don’t have final figures yet for startup costs, but the permits for the suite’s remodel are valued at nearly $500,000, according to Rogers building inspection reports. Similar suites listed at villageonthecreeks.com lease for $17 per SF.



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