Renovated NICU at UF Health Shands to open
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- UF Health Shands is opening a newly renovated neonatal intensive care unit at it's Childrens Hospital.
Over the past year, the unit has been under construction but Wednesday, hospital management showed what the new facility will do for patients and their families.
"The old facility, it was obviously close quarters, especially being a mother of twins," said Natasha Melvin, who's children were in NICU-2.
Melvin drove from Ocala to the hospital every day for her babies. "They were born 3 and a half weeks early. They have had excellent care here," she said.
Construction for the first phase has been happening at a former research space.
Ed Jimenez, CEO of UF Health Shands, said, "As time evolved, equipment changed, sizes of rooms changed, the amount of family involvement that we wanted changed, yet the facility was something that was still part of the original building."
Jimenez believed it was time for an upgrade. "More and more babies were being brought here from outside. Not only were they bring brought from further distances but they were being brought for more complicated issues," he said.
"It makes it a little crazy in there sometimes when you're with your nurse and then the doctor comes in making their rounds," said Melvin.
The old facility housed 52 beds, the new NICU will have 68.
David Burchfield, Chief of Neonatology, said, "We've had frequent times where we weren't able to accommodate the care of families in North Central Florida because of us being over-census so we needed the beds."
Originally less than 13,000 square feet, the expansion will make the NICU more than 20,000 square feet, costing about $30 million.
Melvin said, "This new area you definitely have more space, more privacy if you're trying to ask questions. I think as parents, we're definitely asking questions all the time."
Four areas, called "neighborhoods" themed for children, will provide up-to-date care for premature and high risk babies. The neighborhoods are labeled Bumblebee, Dragonfly, Hummingbird, and Ladybug.
"This is really part of our plan to make this the premiere place for families to deliver high risk babies," said Burchfield.
"It makes it a little bit more homey. Like a home away from home in a sense cause that's what this is right now, my second home," said Melvin.
Phase One will open Tuesday. Phase Two construction will take place in the old NICU space. All renovations are expected to be complete in the spring.
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