CHARLESTON, W.Va. - There's a baby boom at Thomas Memorial Hospital, with monthly newborn delivery rates higher than they have been in decades.
The hospital's obstetrics unit saw 107 deliveries in July and 105 in August.
Dr. Kiran Patel, an obstetrician and gynecologist who works on Thomas Memorial's obstetrics unit, said the hospital hasn't seen numbers that high in 30 or 40 years.
Deliveries dropped to 95 in September, but Bethany Ferris, director of obstetrics and newborn services, said the hospital is poised to deliver well over 900 babies this year.
Ferris credits the growth to Thomas Memorial's new obstetrics unit, which opened June 2010 in the hospital's new clinical pavilion.
Before the addition, the hospital saw 65 to 80 deliveries a month, she said.
"The word's getting out," she said. "Especially in our area of expertise, people want to go where they know they're going to get great care."
In 2010, the hospital saw 852 deliveries, down slightly from 875 the year before. The hospital had 917 deliveries in 2008, 914 in 2007 and 888 in 2006.
Ferris said she expects to top even the 2008 figure by the end of December. Thomas Memorial doctors delivered 755 babies from January through the end of September this year.
"And we've still got three months to go," she said.
The new obstetrics unit has 19 private rooms, compared to the 12 two-person rooms in the old facility. The unit also has six labor and delivery rooms. The old obstetrics wing had four.
The hospital's nursery is three times larger, Ferris said. The neonatal intensive care unit, which was previously limited to five babies, now can accommodate eight patients.
Patel said the hospital now has eight obstetricians on staff, and four are women. Ferris said that's another reason more women are picking Thomas Memorial.