Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) is preparing to double the size of its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after recently learning its request to expand the unit has been approved. The certificate of need (CON) submitted by PMC in August, 2019, asked to increase the number of beds in the NICU from 8 to 16.
In addition to being able to treat more babies, moving to a 16-bed unit increased PMC’s level of care from a level II to a level II Advanced Care NICU. That will allow PMC physicians and staff to care for babies born earlier in the mother’s pregnancy. Previously, babies born sooner than 32 weeks had to be transferred to a higher level facility. However, the PMC NICU will now be able to keep and take care of babies born as early as 28 weeks. PMC NICU staff will also be able to treat babies with a lower birth weight than before.
“This is exciting news for our entire region,” explained PMC NICU Medical Director and Neonatologist Todd Hambleton, MD. “We will now be able to keep more babies closer to their families, easing emotional and financial burdens. This will allow some families to see their babies every day instead of once a week or even longer.”
PMC officials say it’s very important to carefully choose a hospital when facing a medical procedure. “You don’t always know that a baby is going to require specialized care before you give birth,” explained PMC Director of Women’s and Children’s Services Tondra Blevins. “Our labor and delivery department has state-of-the-art equipment and our physicians are excellent.” “The availability of an advanced care NICU can be an important consideration when expectant parents are choosing their birth hospital.”