Women & Infants Hospital breaks ground on Brown University Labor and Delivery Center

Leaders from Care New England and Brown University joined elected officials at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new, technologically advanced labor and delivery center at Women & Infants Hospital.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — On an auspiciously bright spring morning, health care and education leaders joined elected officials for a ceremonial groundbreaking of the Brown University Labor and Delivery Center — a state-of-the-art unit at Care New England’s Women & Infants Hospital, named in recognition of a $5 million gift from Brown in support of the project.

Hospital leaders said the new facility will replace Women & Infants’ top-ranked but outmoded labor and delivery center, enhancing birthing options, ensuring equity for patients and providing a world-class center in which families from Rhode Island and the surrounding region can deliver their babies.

With more than 80% of local families delivering at Women & Infants, Brown is providing financial support to help advance care for women and families, and to invest in first-class hospital facilities for Care New England, one of Rhode Island’s major health care systems and an affiliate of Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School. 

During the Wednesday, May 10, groundbreaking event, Brown University President Christina H. Paxson noted that because the quality of health facilities is closely associated with health outcomes, an updated labor and deliver center will provide a multitude of benefits for birthing families as well as the medical experts who care for them.

“What we're doing here matters for Rhode Island families,” Paxson said. “It matters because improved resources for clinicians and care providers translates into excellent patient and medical outcomes. And it means a more personalized birth experience for the families who come here, which is really important.”

The new Brown University Labor and Delivery Center will be designed to improve the birthing experience by offering larger, more comfortable rooms with private baths and windows, as well as space for families, doulas and support staff; a facility design constructed around providing the best care plan possible; and updated equipment and décor that reflect advancements in technology and medical care. Importantly, the rooms will offer the same enhanced experience to all patients, improving health care equity.

“For decades, patients have turned to Women & Infants Hospital for high-quality care, especially in delivering their children safely into the world,” said hospital president Shannon Sullivan. “But to care for future generations, it is imperative that we upgrade our facilities, so those who trust us to provide them with expert care receive the medically advanced environment they’ve come to expect and deserve from Women & Infants.”

Providence Mayor Brett Smiley commended Women & Infants’ goals for the center and Brown’s “meaningful investment in the new facility,” which he said will address health disparities among Black and Hispanic women by serving the entire community.

“We are excited that this new facility will help deliver equitable, high-quality care to everyone, and most especially to the women and families in these neighborhoods around us, in the urban core in Providence and in the surrounding communities,” Smiley said. “And we're confident that we will actually break down barriers to better health outcomes for an entire family's lives from what happens here and into the future.”

The groundbreaking took place on the site where the new three-story hospital addition will stand, which is within sight of the current labor and delivery center. Gathered for the event were nurses in scrubs, physicians in white coats, and representatives from Dimeo Construction, the company selected to build the new facility, wearing hard hats and safety vests. Additional Women & Infants staff (some wearing plastic hard hats to commemorate the occasion) peered down at the event from hospital windows.

The project was described as being 10 years in the making. The $5 million gift from Brown, announced in October 2022, added to philanthropic support Women & Infants has received to date toward what’s estimated to be a $28 million construction project.

In describing the new center during Wednesday’s groundbreaking, Rhode Island Gov. Daniel McKee called it a key step toward creating 21st century health care and investing in the future of Rhode Island.

“This state-of-the-art facility will provide many new, good-paying job opportunities right here in our state, while contributing to a healthier Rhode Island,” McKee said, referring to jobs in construction as well as health care and medicine. “The project… is going to give us literally decades of return on the investment we’re making.”

The facility also has the potential to draw top talent to the state, Paxson said, noting that 60% of doctors in Rhode Island are affiliated with the Warren Alpert Medical School. Having the best health care benefits not only birthing families of today, but their children and grandchildren who remain in the state.

“As we've worked in collaboration with our partners to strengthen the fabric of health care in Rhode Island, we've continued to increase the quality of our health care workforce,” Paxson said. “We bring people here for medical school, for residencies. They come for Brown, but they stay for the people of Rhode Island.”

The labor and delivery center is expected to be completed in December 2024.