Texas Children's Hospital Pavilion for Women will open in phases.

When planning began for the design and construction of the new $575 million Texas Children's Hospital Pavilion for Women in 2006, the goal was a lofty one: to become a premier facility that offers the best-quality care possible for women, mothers and babies.

To achieve the goal, the hospital received input from physicians, nurses and other clinical staff at Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, and elsewhere. But, they went a significant step beyond that in planning, and one that makes perfect sense. If you want a hospital that best serves women, who better than moms to execute the project and provide advice?

Lead architect Diane Osan, senior principal at design firm FKP Architects, and Laura Bellows, chairman of the board, W.S. Bellows Construction, which built the 1.3-million-square-foot, 99-bed facility, are mothers. So is Cris Daskevich, senior vice president, Texas Children's Hospital, and the lead administrator on the project.

The hospital also established an advisory council of women who had delivered babies at area hospitals or spent time at the Texas Children's neonatal intensive care unit for insight on how to design and equip patient rooms, bathrooms and common areas, says Daskevich. Their input was invaluable, she says.

For example, the mothers who were interviewed wanted a bathroom that more closely resembled one found in a nice hotel, with plenty of storage space for personal items. The shower has a bench for seating and features stationary and hand-held showers.

Additionally, the patient room is large so that clinical staff can treat mother and baby easily. It also provides plenty of space for visiting family members.

If needed, there are private neonatal intensive care rooms that can accommodate parents for extended stays. A private valet and checkout area allows parents and babies to depart in a calm, quiet zone.

"Women's involvement has made the project stand out because so many people are so very passionate about it," says Daskevich.

Phase 1 of the opening began Nov. 7, when outpatient obstetrical and gynecolog­ical services were offered, and the maternal and fetal center opened. Phase 2 is scheduled for March when the facility will offer labor and delivery services. The pavilion can deliver 5,000 babies annually.