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D.J. Hammond holds his new baby boy with daughter Savanah by his side on Thursday in St. Patrick Hospital’s new Family Maternity Center. Katie Willmert, the boy’s mother, was one of the first to give birth in the new center.

St. Patrick Hospital’s new Family Maternity Center wasn’t open four days before it had helped deliver five new babies.

“I still can’t believe I did it,” Brianne Hopkins said of her newborn son Colter, who arrived at 9:49 a.m. Wednesday at 8 pounds 2 ounces and 22 inches. “He was 2 1/2 weeks early. I came in to get checked, and Janice (Givler, Hopkins’ obstetrician) walked me up here and said let’s get you in there.”

She was soon joined by husband Mark Hopkins, who got to sleep in the birthing room’s windowside couch/hide-a-bed. Colter was the first child to be born in that room, one of seven in St. Pat’s new center.

The $5 million center takes up a large share of the Broadway Building’s third floor. The hospital resumed baby delivery this week, after a 40-year hiatus.

In addition to the birthing/recovery rooms, there is also a two-bed nursery, a one-bed isolation nursery and a Cesarean-section suite in the 12,214 square feet of space.

“This week we’ve witnessed the culmination of months of planning, training and hard work from our staff and providers,” regional chief executive Jeff Fee said in a statement. “We are proud to offer a new option for the people of western Montana that is on par with the clinical excellence of our other longstanding service lines.”

Women’s Services regional director Kathy Schaefer said bringing a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week facility into a building that mostly deals with business-day activity was a challenge. It required lots of policy, procedural, supply and construction decisions that other parts of the building don’t address.

“This was really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to add something this important,” Schaefer said. “A change like this in a hospital is not something that happens frequently.”

St. Pat's expects to handle about 300 births a year in the Family Maternity Center. Its guidelines restrict it to delivering babies at least 35 weeks through term. Premature or at-risk pregnancies will be transferred to Missoula’s Community Medical Center, which has a level 3B neonatal intensive care ward.

Another of St. Pat’s first arrivals was still awaiting his choice of name on Thursday.

“Right now, he’s ‘Boy Wonder,’ ” father D.J. Hammond said while mother Katie Willmert and new big sister Savanah looked on. “He was born at 8:33 a.m. Wednesday and weighed 8 pounds 11 ounces and was 20 3/4 inches long. These guys are really great at what they do.”

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Natural Resources & Environment Reporter

Natural Resources Reporter for The Missoulian.