Providence Holy Cross moves tiny patients to newly expanded and refurbished NICU

In a highly orchestrated move, Providence Holy Cross Medical Center doctors, nurses and specialists transferred eight tiny patients this week from temporary space to a newly expanded and renovated neonatal intensive care unit.

The move, completed without a hitch, came after two years of pandemic-delayed construction of the new unit. The babies, attached to numerous devices including feeding tubes and various monitors, had been cared for in an eight-bed section of the adult ICU during the construction.

Before the move began, a blessing was offered for a safe move, a tradition of Providence, a Catholic health care organization. 

Then one-by-one, each baby was checked, the devices attached to a temporary power source that was attached to their incubator and the team, with a parent in tow, headed to the new cheerfully decorated unit.

Key to finishing the project was $750,000 in federal funding secured by U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas and approved by President Biden. The congressman called this project “The Keeping Families Together NICU Expansion.”

“These babies are among our most vulnerable patients, and it takes a very special group to care for such medically fragile newborns and their families,” said Bernie Klein, M.D., the hospital’s chief executive. “It truly takes a village. Thank you to Congressman Cárdenas, to all our donors who made this possible, to NICU parents who trust us with their much-loved infants and to all our doctors and staff whose sole focus is to enable these little ones go home.”

The NICU opened in 2010 with 12 beds, but soon was frequently over capacity and fragile infants in need of intensive care had to be transferred to other hospitals while their mothers, still recovering from giving birth, stayed behind. Construction to add six more beds was expected to take about nine months, but was delayed as COVID-19 surged.

The newly expanded NICU not only has more new beds, but a new cooling system to lower the temperature of a baby after a traumatic labor experience, secure private web cameras at each bed so loved ones can watch these tiny patients from home and colorful mural of animals decorating the walls.