``Hospital rooms are usually gloomy and have a smell to [them],'' said the 22-year-old Monroeville woman. ``But this place is so clean. It's bright and keeps you upbeat.''
Lucas' room is a part of a hospital initiative designed to centralize the four aspects of childbirth - labor, delivery, recovery and the postpartum stay - in one room, called an LDRP suite.
Under the old system, patients were moved to different rooms for each of the four phases, hospital officials said.
``There's going to be no more moving around,'' said Richard Bellemente, a spokesman for the hospital. ``Now, moms will be able to stay in one room for everything.'' Bellemente offered more good news: The cost will remain the same.
Women having a Caesarean section will be the exception. They will be transferred to another area for surgery.
The new suites, which the hospital started using last week, are set to officially open on Labor Day - pun intended.
Lucas' room is one of 18 that make up the hospital's new deluxe maternity suites. Each room is equipped with a birthing bed, fetal monitor and refrigerator, and some units have a small jacuzzi.
``We're trying to be mom-friendly,'' said Jean Morrison, a registered nurse at Underwood. ``The hope is that we can keep the baby in the same room with mom all the time, unless there are other reasons not to.''
This concept is not new. Birthing centers of 25 years ago operated on the same notion. Underwood's new suites revisit this practice.
``It's a new approach to an old idea,'' Bellemente said.
Lucas said that when she had her 2-year-old daughter, Cheyenne, at another hospital, the baby was taken away right after she gave birth. She prefers Underwood's new system.
``It's nice to see the baby,'' Lucas said. ``You waited nine months to see him, you don't want them to take him right away.''
The idea to move from the traditional hospital room to one that is more aesthetically pleasing to the patient has been two years in the making at Underwood. Edward Apetz, chairman of the obstetrics and gynecology department who helped plan the facility, said the old setup was inconvenient and costly. With each patient transfer from room to room, the cost of changing the linens, cleaning and sterilizing the room, and labor, was about $200 per move, the doctor said.
Also, as health care becomes more competitive, hospitals need to find ways to stay ahead, officials said.
``Just because we're a nonprofit hospital does not mean we can't strive to make money,'' Bellemente said. ``It's a competitive environment. You want to set yourself apart to encourage physicians and patients to become our customers.''
Bellemente said he hoped the new maternity suites would do just that.
Hospital officials are also looking to consolidate all facets of maternity care to one area of the hospital. Under the current system, maternity care is scattered on several floors. The pediatrics unit is on the seventh floor, and gynecological surgeries are done in various areas of the hospital.
By October, these departments will be consolidated on the fourth floor.
The new maternity-child health department will house a nutrition center. Patients and their families will have unlimited access to the area, which will contain a microwave oven and an ice machine, and which will be stocked with milk and juices.