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The baby business.

Women, Babies Equal Big Business For Doctors Hospital As Others Try To Catch Up

Pink wallpaper.

Plush chairs.

Pretty pictures.

"You really don't feel like you're in a hospital," says Judy Williams, assistant director of marketing and public relations at Doctors Hospital in Little Rock.

That's the way administration wants it.

Doctors, the first Arkansas hospital to devote an entire floor to women, has become known as the place for delivering babies.

For two consecutive years, Doctors has had the highest number of deliveries in the state. This year, the number of births is up by 17 percent at Doctors.

"We're in a baby-boom year," Williams says. "It looks like we're going to be the No. 1 birthing hospital."

Again.

The birthing business is big business.

Other central Arkansas hospitals are attempting to capitalize.

"We want to be inclusive, not exclusive, in the things we do," says Don Oglesby, senior vice president for human resources and public relations at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center of Little Rock.

St. Vincent is about to begin delivering babies again after more than a decade out of the birthing business.

St. Vincent halted deliveries in the late 1970s. The birthrate had dropped, Doctors had opened, one obstetrician had left and another had limited his practice to gynecology.

Also, the Catholic-run corporation that operates the hospital did not allow tubal ligations and other procedures that were against church codes.

An intensive-care nursery remained open.

St. Vincent has embarked on a marketing campaign announcing the full return to maternity services. Just call 660-BABY for the details, the ads say.

Doctors has its own tag line.

"Your birth your way" is the slogan that appears on hospital brochures.

Some of the things Doctors first implemented now can be seen at other hospitals, according to Williams.

For instance, Williams claims Doctors was the first hospital in the state to offer an LDR room that combines labor, delivery and recovery.

Now, Baptist Medical System is preparing to offer the same facilities, but the move is not in response to Doctors, according to Gordon W. Hawthorne, senior vice president of corporate services.

Hawthorne says LDR suites should be ready by February. Nurses have been asked to assist in designing the beds.

If that doesn't sound so special, how about a Jacuzzi in some rooms?

Baptist is planning that for certain suites.

The Baby Business

Baptist, St. Vincent and Doctors target women in their marketing.

"It would be interesting to know how much impact these promotions have," Hawthorne says. "The bottom line is women choose hospitals based on what doctor they choose."

Hospital marketers agree word of mouth and referrals are what win the most patients.

Still, Oglesby says, "Women make the buying decision in health-related matters. We don't want to overlook them."

St. Vincent continued marketing to women even when it wasn't offering a full range of services.

"We certainly don't want the women to forget us," Hawthorne says.

St. Vincent's new program, called Today's Family Maternity Center, stresses complete family involvement with an emphasis on the father's role.

Arkansas Children's Hospital of Little Rock, which does not deliver babies, offers education for expectant and new parents.

Doctors Hospital conducted Arkansas Women's Health Week programs throughout the state this month. It also mails out a newsletter for women.

When people think of Doctors, they think of babies.

Perception sometimes is not reality. In this case, however, Doctors seems to have the facts to back up the perception.

The hospital has a billboard that reads "31,612 happy endings." It features the diapered behinds of four children.

Williams says the hospital did not set out to be the leader in the baby business. But there was a need for more obstetrics when the hospital opened 17 years ago. In fact, several of the hospital's original doctors were searching for a place to practice obstetrics.

The end result is that Doctors is looking for ways to diversify.

And other central Arkansas hospitals are looking for ways to catch up in the booming baby business.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:maternal services offered in Little Rock's hospitals
Author:Rengers, Carrie
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Nov 25, 1991
Words:672
Previous Article:Selling health care: Arkansas hospitals realizing marketing is more than just advertising.
Next Article:Special delivery: HMO Arkansas develops program to identify and monitor state's high-risk pregnancies.
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