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Zaira Estrada and Lucio Cruz hold their newborn son, Alexander

Family shares special connection to newly remodeled Mother-Baby Unit

Zaira Estrada and Lucio Cruz welcomed their newborn son, Alexander, in a setting more akin to a luxury hotel suite than a typical hospital room. Cruz served as construction coordinator for the unit's remodeling, handling many of the details that give the fifth floor its new, luxurious feel.

Published Apr 7th, 2023

On the fifth floor of USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital, Zaira Estrada and Lucio Cruz posed for photos with their newborn son, Alexander, in a setting more akin to a luxury hotel suite than a typical hospital room.

Decorated in natural wood tones and grays, the spacious suite exuded elegance and comfort. In addition to a state-of-the-art patient bed, the room featured a baby station, a recliner and a sizable couch near a large window. Steps away, a full bathroom included stone accents, a walk-in shower, large mirror and bidet.

As they comforted their baby, the couple discussed their special connection to the newly remodeled Mother-Baby Unit. Over the past year, Cruz served as construction coordinator, handling many details of the project to give the fifth floor an entirely new, luxurious feel.

“I oversaw construction from the ground up,” said Cruz, who joined Children’s & Women’s Hospital in January 2022. “It is very nice to be able to enjoy something we put so much work into.”

Cruz was on hand for the unveiling in February, when USA Health CEO Owen Bailey kicked off a reception by exclaiming, “Welcome to the Ritz-Carlton!” That evening, University of South Alabama President Jo Bonner, USA trustees, USA Health leaders, doctors, nurses and staff got a glimpse of the new unit, marveling at the birds-in-flight wallpaper on the foyer ceiling and the Mother-Baby signage in gold lettering.

Exactly one month later, Estrada and Cruz checked into the unit at 9 p.m. to prepare for an induction of labor the following day. Baby Alexander arrived at 9:40 a.m. weighing 8 pounds and measuring 20 inches long.

“Everybody was really nice and helpful,” Estrada said. “They really walked me through the contractions and everything.”

She praised the new look and feel of the unit, having given birth to her two older children at the hospital previously. “The décor and everything make it so different this time,” she said.

The new unit is not only beautiful but also practical. Each of the 20 suites is designed to facilitate couplet care, a family-centered approach in which mother and baby are cared for in the same room from the time of birth until they are discharged.

“We want to provide care for both mom and baby at the bedside,” explained Vicki Curtis, M.S.N., R.N., director of women’s services for USA Health. “The unit has all the amenities in the rooms to allow the babies to stay comfortably with their moms.”

Each suite is outfitted with a computer station for providers to use and a counter where babies can be bathed and weighed. In addition, bassinets are height-adjustable to allow assessments and other procedures to be completed at the bedside.

Down the hall is a new lactation space, staffed by an expanded team of lactation consultants, with private rooms for breast pumping – not only for use by patients, but also for staff and visitors.

Deborah Browning, M.S.N., R.N., C.E.N.P., interim hospital administrator, summed up the goal of the remodeling project this way: “This beautiful new unit is another example of how Children’s & Women’s Hospital focuses on providing high-quality care that is patient-centered.”

Estrada and Cruz agreed. After a visit from OB-GYN Tracy Roth, M.D., the couple said they looked forward to introducing Alexander to his siblings, Colby, 12; Juess, 8; and Ailani, 5. But being discharged also meant saying goodbye to the comforts of the new unit.

“I’ll miss it here,” Estrada said. “They’ve made it very comfortable for us.”

Lucio Cruz, right, served as construction coordinator of the Mother-Baby Unit's remodeling.

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