MURRIETA – Construction began this month on Loma Linda University Medical Center – Murrieta’s upcoming neonatal intensive-care unit, which is scheduled to open this autumn and add to the hospital’s complete delivery care for new parents.
The six-bed facility will be a Level II NICU, enabling hospital staff to take care of the most common problems that can occur with premature infants born at or after 32 weeks gestation. Hospital medical officers said approximately 5 to 10 percent of all babies need additional post-delivery care that a NICU can provide, such as short-term mechanical ventilation, treatment for jaundice, help with feeding or treatment with antibiotics.
The new NICU will feature private rooms that will allow parents to stay overnight in the same room as their baby, a unique feature that isn’t currently offered by providers in the area and is one of the top factors in helping NICU babies recover more rapidly, Dr. Raylene Phillips said. Phillips is the co-director of neonatology at Loma Linda University Medical Center – Murrieta.
“It’s well-known that babies have significant stress when separated from their mother because they’re still so psychologically connected,” Phillips said. “Our new NICU will allow us to keep the family and baby together, which will reduce stress for parents and especially our newborn patients.”
Hospital executives said infants needing an even higher level of care – such as those with congenital heart defects or other surgical candidates – will have direct access to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, which has a Level IV NICU and access to the highest levels of expertise.
Loma Linda University Medical Center – Murrieta already offers labor and delivery support, a skin-to-skin bonding program following delivery and a lactation clinic.
The new NICU is scheduled to open this fall, after construction has completed and licensing requirements have been secured from appropriate state agencies.
“We’re pleased to be adding this Level II NICU to our complete delivery care services,” Peter Baker, administrator of Loma Linda University Medical Center – Murrieta, said. “Our goal is to keep southwest Riverside County-area newborns who may need additional care closer to their moms throughout the post-delivery care process. We’ll provide expectant families the comfort and assurance that their child will receive the best medicine has to offer, no matter the situation.”