Butterfly Suite at West Penn Hospital intends to help parents dealing with pregnancy loss grieve

PITTSBURGH — When you enter West Penn Hospital’s labor and delivery floor, it’s typically full of joy.

“We heard in the room next to us a giant round of applause when a baby was born, and we heard babies cry,” said Becky Keenan.

But in May 2020, the Keenan family wasn’t joining in with those cheers.

“We came into the hospital thinking it was preterm labor and found out that our son had died in utero, and he would be stillborn. I was 35 weeks pregnant, and I delivered him here,” Keenan said.

While the Keenans tried to cope with their loss, there was no privacy or space to grieve. That’s where the idea of the Butterfly Suite was born.

“I look at it and it breaks my heart that someone will need this space one day. I wish with everything that wasn’t going to be but at the same time it’s really comforting to me to know another family will have it,” Keenan said.

The suite is a soundproofed labor and delivery space for a family delivering a baby who is no longer alive or may only live a short time. Connected to that room is a waiting room for the family to have direct access to be together.

“It should be the standard of care and it’s not, but if a loved one dies you want to be able to grieve with your family but also privately, so it’s essential,” said Dr. Marta Kolthoff with Allegheny Health Network.

Now that dream inspired by the Keenans’ son Caleb has become reality.

“We hope nobody ever needs it but we know we know many people will. That’s hopefully the lasting legacy of our son and what we’ve done here,” said Jeff Keenan.

The suite is officially open for use.

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