Harbor Hospital education center trims the travel time for expectant mothers Festival Plaza facility is 'a lot more convenient'

January 19, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Jennifer Henderson, who is seven months pregnant, had to decide last month whether to drive from her Glen Burnie home all the way to Harbor Hospital in Baltimore for her childbirth class or to the hospital's new education center in the Festival Plaza on Ritchie Highway.

It wasn't a difficult choice.

The center in Pasadena is "a lot more convenient," she said. "I really liked that it's only a couple of minutes from my house."

Women such as Ms. Henderson are among the primary reasons the hospital opened the center next to the Minnesota Fabric store in the shopping center, according to Nancy Riegel, Harbor's director for suburban ambulatory services.

About 40 percent of expectant mothers from northern and central Anne Arundel deliver their babies at Harbor, Ms. Riegel said.

"The interest is in making it as convenient and as accessible as we can for our patients," she said. "That was the key area for us."

The center, in the 8100 block of Ritchie Highway, already has offered two programs and hopes to offer more, said Nancy Powell, Harbor's assistant administrator for community partnership.

"We will begin to set up weekly programs and target the needs down there so that we can fulfill them," she said.

The center's opening coincides with the start of a $2.5 million project to turn an abandoned supermarket a few hundred yards away into the hospital's new ambulatory site called Harbor HealthPark.

The 44,000-square-foot HealthPark next to an Ames department store will open this spring, Ms. Riegel said.

It will include primary care for adults and children, same-day surgery, a women's health center, a pharmacy and space for alternative medicine, such as massage therapy and acupuncture phased in over six months.

At the education center in the Festival Plaza, nearby residents can enroll in a five-week childbirth education class that includes videos on fetal development, lessons in relaxation techniques and on good nutrition for pregnant mothers, said Ms. Powell, who also coordinates programs at the center.

Ms. Powell said she hopes to offer courses on menopause, smoking and stress management. She also said participants will be asked to fill out surveys to learn what health care needs they consider most important.

"What we want to do is teach people to better manage their own health," she said. "Many people don't know how to do that."

Patsie Griffin, the instructor for the childbirth course, said she has received favorable responses from the four couples enrolled.

"The group I have now is happy to have something like this so close to home," she said. "Many times, couples like to take their prenatal classes at the hospital where they plan to deliver. But a busy schedule makes it hard to drive out to the hospital, which can be far away."

Ms. Henderson, who took the course with her boyfriend, Anthony Benavides, agreed.

"I would've had to drive to the hospital," she said. "I would've done it, but it's a lot less convenient."

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