Ashley Bunting holds her daughter, Hannah, in Western Baptist Hospital's neo-natal intensive care unit. Hannah spent her first 10 days in the NICU because she was born with an infection. Ashley Bunting said she was grateful for the NICU in Paducah because she was able to remain close to her daughter without traveling far from her Carnac, Ill., home. In the year it's been in operation, the NICU has provided care for the children of more than 175 families.
The first infants who received extra love and care in Western Baptist Hospital’s Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit are approaching their first birthdays.
The NICU opened in January 2011. It provides close supervision and care for infants born with complications like prematurity, infection, abnormal vital signs or some congenital diseases. According to a WBH press release, more than 175 families have seen their newborns admitted to the NICU since it opened. Dr. Ed O’Neill, medical director of the NICU, said the most common condition bringing children to the NICU is premature birth.
“Obviously, the biggest advantage is parents can remain near their homes when their babies need to be in the NICU,” O’Neill said. Previously, children born in Baptist that needed a NICU were taken to other hospitals like St. Francis in Cape Girardeau, Mo. “Keeping a baby here is a great advantage, and we have a great staff.”
O’Neill said patient volumes in the NICU have been increasing. When the unit has been full, some admissions have been sent to other facilities. He hopes additional space will be added to the NICU and that some additional practitioners will be hired to provide care for newborns.
“In the past year, we have kept greater than 95 percent of babies requiring a NICU at our hospital,” O’Neill said. “I would call that a success. It’s the reason the hospital chose to add a NICU.”
Ashley Bunting of Karnak, Ill., said her daughter Hannah spent 10 days in the NICU because of an infection. With a 3-year-old child at home, a trip to a NICU beyond Paducah would have stressed her family.
“I can’t say enough good things about the NICU,” Bunting said. “Dr. O’Neill is awesome. He talked to us like people face to face and answered our questions.”
Bunting said pediatrician Dr. David Schell told her Hannah’s condition was such she would have likely been flown to another hospital until WBH opened its NICU. Instead, Hannah stayed close to home. Bunting said nurses cared for her daughter as if she was their own daughter, speaking to her tenderly as they administered treatment.
“I have 3-year-old,” Bunting said. “I can’t go to Louisville for days on end. The NICU at Baptist is a blessing to all of us.”