News

NICU coming to Chambersburg Hospital

Written by Amber South/Chambersburg Public Opinion | Dec 9, 2015 12:50 PM

(Chambersburg) -- Chambersburg Hospital will soon have the ability to provide care on-site for babies born prematurely at at least 32 weeks or facing other health conditions that require special care.

A Level II Newborn Intensive Care Unit will open in January at the hospital, which is part of the Summit Health system. Three beds for newborns needing special care will be available immediately, and capacity will eventually increase to nine babies, according to Terri Chaires, director of Family Birthing Services at the hospital.

Currently and up until the NICU opens, babies born prematurely at 32 weeks or more or in need of special care must be transferred to another hospital that has the needed facility, according to Chaires. These include Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Wellspan Hospital in York.

While reports vary, Chaires said that, conservatively, about 10.5 percent of all births at Chambersburg Hospital are pre-term and in need of NICU services.

President and CEO of Summit Health, Pat O'Donnell said the addition of a NICU to Chambersburg Hospital will offer a service that's much needed in the community.

"Having a NICU at Chambersburg Hospital will allow us to care for perhaps the most fragile members of our community, close to home," he said, in a news release. "We want local families to know we are here for them in the event their newborn may need a little extra care."

The NICU will take up 5,261 square feet in the hospital and consist of five private rooms as well as a nurses station, doctor's office and parent area, among other spaces.

There, a neonatologist will work alongside specially trained nurses and staff. It will be equipped with the latest technology that will allow 32-week-plus pre-term babies and babies with unexpected medical conditions such as infections or respiratory distress like meconium aspiration at delivery, to get the treatment they need without having to be transferred to another hospital.

Babies in need of more complex care and those born at fewer than 32 weeks gestation will still need to be transferred to another facility, Chaires said.

Community organizations have stepped up to help pay for the medical technology that will be available in Chambersburg Hospital's Level II NICU.

Chambersburg Area Hospital Auxiliary has donated $128,400 this year toward the NICU. A $75,000 donation this week adds to $53,400 the group donated earlier this year, according to Summit Health.

Auxiliary Board President Mona Etter recently presented a check to John Massimilla, COO of Chambersburg Hospital, and Sherri Stahl, senior vice president of hospital services.

"We're so happy to be able to help keep mothers and babies home," Etter said at the check presentation.

Chambersburg Hospital has been planning the addition of the Level II NICU since spring 2014, according to Stahl.

Level II refers to the complexity of care for the new NICU addition, whereas Chambersburg Hospital already has the services needed for Level I, which is a nursery for the basic care of newborns born at or near term with no health issues, according to Chaires.

"We are excited to bring this special care unit to Chambersburg Hospital," Chaires added. "We hope it will be a comfort to mothers-to-be in the area that they can receive this special care from experienced providers, right here in their local community."

For more information on the NICU, visit SummitHealth.org/NICU.


This article comes to us through a partnership between Public Opinion Online and WITF.

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