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Crouse Hospital in Syracuse plans major expansion of neonatal ICU

Ellen Abbott
The neonatal intensive care unity at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse

The neonatal intensive care unit at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse has outgrown its footprint and is planning a major renovation and expansion of the unit.

The current NICU was built in 1999. Since then, neonatology has changed a lot.

"Our equipment is getting larger.  The amount of babies that we have compared to then has increased, and we need more space,” said Erin Coleman, nurse manager at Crouse's NICU.

Coleman said doctors are also realizing the importance of the family dynamic in the health of a newborn.

"Even if she can’t necessarily hold her infant, a mother just looking at the baby can increase milk production," Coleman said. "Having a father present to learn care up front is going to have better outcomes in the end because they’ve been involved in care and bonding has happened early.”

That means more room for families to bond with newborns. There also has been an increase in the number of premature and multiple births in recent years. Every day at Crouse, there are an average of three to four babies born addicted to opioids.

Coleman said the hospital is looking at a couple of options to increase the number of beds from 57 to 64.

"One of which is to take over the entire 9th floor which would expand our footprint longitudinally, the other is to expand upwards and develop another floor," she said.

The expansion is expected to cost $31 million, and the hospital is embarking on a fundraising drive.  Construction could begin at the end of 2019.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.