Huntsville Hospital’s NICU getting more patient beds

It’s the only Level III Neonatal ICU in North Alabama, expansion underway
Updated: Jul. 24, 2019 at 6:41 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children is expanding its Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

It provides specialized care for premature babies and critically ill babies

With all of the growth happening across north Alabama, the hospital is growing too.

"We are the region's only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care here. We have a commitment to our community to make sure we can take care of the patients coming to us. We admit over 1100 patients a year and transport in locally and also regionally about 200 of those patients annually," said Cheryl Case, Neonatal ICU Unit Director.

As the number of patients increases, as well as the complexity of care, the hospital identified the need to expand the unit and construction is underway to add 10 new patient beds.

"We know that with all of the plants coming in and all of the opportunities, we will have mothers of child bearing age and so we're looking at how we can be prepared from the NICU standpoint, but also, all of the women's services," Case stated.

As our community grows, we need to grow with it. We are excited to announce we are expanding our Level III Neonatal...

Posted by Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children on Friday, July 19, 2019

In the new space, families can be on one side of the room and the nurses can function from the other side, with their equipment and supplies.

"We take care of very low birth weight, small babies. And we have a dedicated group of nurses that care for our small baby population. And as those outcomes have continued to improve, we have patients that are staying here longer, 100 days, 120 days. So having this unit will allow us to have an environment to have long term care with them and also ensure that our families have space so they can be there and be an integrated part of the care we're giving," Case explained.

The newly expanded NICU is anticipated to open sometime in November.

The Huntsville Hospital Foundation is raising funds for the expansion through this year's Swim for Melissa and Miracle Bash.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) listed the following classifications for neonatal care:

Level I: A hospital nursery able to evaluate and provide care of healthy newborn infants and babies born as early as 35 weeks whose condition is stable

Level II: A hospital special care nursery able to care for infants born at 32 weeks’ gestation or more and weighing 1500 g (3.3 lbs) or more at birth

Level III: A hospital neonatal ICU that provides specialized care for premature babies and babies with critical illness. Level III units routinely provide ongoing assisted ventilation, have ready access to a full range of pediatric medical subspecialists, and have advanced imaging with interpretation on an urgent basis

Level IV: A hospital neonatal ICU with the same capabilities as a Level III NICU but can also provide surgical repair of serious congenital or acquired malformations.

Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children has the only Level III Neonatal ICU (NICU) in the region. It is staffed by a team of five board-certified neonatologists and a neonatal hospitalist. The physician team is supported by neonatal nurse practitioners and neonatal registered nurses.

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