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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Mercy Health Foundation succeeded in its historic fundraising effort to build a massive new women’s center in the Oklahoma City metro area.

The Health Foundation raised $40 million to fund development of the Love Family Women’s Center. A $1.5 million early Christmas donation from Mark Davenport and his mother, Pat, pushed the fundraiser – the largest in Mercy’s nearly 200-year history – over the goal line. It was an achievement two years in the making.

“This women’s center project will have a direct, lifelong impact on our community,” said Mark Davenport, chairman of Quail Creek Bank. “Having a state-of-the-art dedicated women’s center here in Oklahoma City is a meaningful way my mom and I could honor my three sisters who died early in their lives. This project also allows us to invest in future generations of Oklahomans, including the youngest generation of Davenport girls, all four born at Mercy.”

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Love Family Women’s Center rendering. Image provided by Mercy.

Construction begins in July and is expected be complete in fall 2023.

The new women’s center will be a 175,000-square-foot, four-story building on the Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City campus and have 30 patient rooms to accommodate the significant increase in child births.

Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City was built in the 1970s and designed to accommodate up to 3,000 births each year. But with a 34 percent increase in childbirths over the past 10 years, the hospital now makes room for nearly 4,000 births each year. The metro hospital saw 217 additional births in the last six months compared to the same time period in 2020.

The women’s center will increase the hospital’s delivery capacity by 40 percent.

“We started this campaign in December 2019, a few months before the beginning of the pandemic with no idea what was coming,” said Jim Gebhart, community president of Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City. “Raising $40 million during normal times was a lofty goal, but three months into the campaign, COVID changed everything. We were all suddenly in a time of overwhelming uncertainty, and at times, we really wondered if we’d be able to pull this off.”

The women’s center will also include an obstetrics emergency department staffed by obstetricians and Oklahoma’s only hospital-based low intervention birthing center. Accredited midwives who are also registered nurses will run the unit in collaboration with obstetricians.

The first floor will contain a caesarean section unit with three suites that connect to the hospital via the existing hospital surgery suite, strategically designed to provide quick, safe access to additional services if medical emergencies arise during delivery.

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Love Family Women’s Center campus view rendering. Image provided by Mercy.

All labor and delivery suites and an antepartum unit will be located on the second floor.

The third floor will house the postpartum rooms and connect to the hospital through a skybridge, providing new mothers who need specialized care direct elevator access to the neonatal intensive care unit on the fifth floor.

The center will serve women of all ages and have a dedicated area for women recovering from surgeries. It will offer outpatient therapy services, specifically pelvic floor therapy, and have a large conference center that will host support groups and classes on childbirth, infant care, CPR and more.

Judy Love and Cathy Keating, co-chairs of the fundraising campaign, raised over $30 million from Oklahoma families and businesses.

The center is named after the Tom and Judy Love family, which donated $10 million to kick off the campaign.

The Sunderland Foundation of Kansas, the only out of state donor, contributed $7.5 million.

“It’s so fitting that we’re completing this monumental goal around Christmastime,” said Lori Cummins, vice president of Mercy Health Foundation Oklahoma City. “These donors really are helping to create more room in the inn at Mercy. When we look at who is on that list, it’s our Oklahoma neighbors and leaders. This is a project that will impact generations of Oklahoma families because of their support.”

A breakdown of the donations is as follows:

  • 7 donors gave more than $1 million
  • 4 donors gave $500,000
  • 4 donors gave between $250,000 and $500,000
  • 13 donors gave between $100,000 and $250,000
  • 7 donors gave between $50,000 and $100,000
  • 35 donors gave $50,000