Hamilton’s NICU expands

Monday, March 18, 2013

 ath and Allison Harrison, whose son, Isaac, was a patient in the Turner Neonatal Intensive Care Pavilion, Hamilton From left are Tandra Young, RN; Nikki Pasley, RN; Mrs. Harrison; Isabel Harrison; Mr. Harrison (holding Isaac); Sally Overstreet, RN; and Anthony Sides, RN.

Heath and Allison Harrison, whose son, Isaac, was a patient in the Turner Neonatal Intensive Care Pavilion, Hamilton Medical Center’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for 26 days (before the unit was renovated), recently returned to see the upgrades. From left are Tandra Young, RN; Nikki Pasley, RN; Mrs. Harrison; Isabel Harrison; Mr. Harrison (holding Isaac); Sally Overstreet, RN; and Anthony Sides, RN.

DALTON, Ga. – The Turner Neonatal Intensive Care Pavilion, Hamilton Medical Center’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has a whole new look in an expanded space, including 6,400 square feet of renovations.

The unit was completely redesigned in the fall of 2012. The expansion includes eight level II rooms and four Level III rooms for ill and premature infants. The new rooms allow parents to stay nearby and bond with their babies during this crucial time.

“We are thrilled with Hamilton’s new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit,” said Liz Kennedy, MD, neonatologist. “Now, in addition to our equipment, which provides state-of-the-art technology, we have a physical space that reflects a state-of-the-art design. Hamilton’s NICU is the only one between Atlanta and Nashville that offers single-family rooms where parents can stay with their critically ill infants.”

Heath and Allison Harrison’s son, Isaac, was born at Hamilton and was in the NICU for 26 days before the unit was redesigned. They recently visited the newly renovated space.

“It’s really nice,” said Mr. Harrison. “I wish we had this when we were here. The private rooms definitely increase the capabilities and comfort. The personal space is very important when you have a newborn. It’s top notch.”

Mr. Harrison is an engineer for Dalton Utilities, and Mrs. Harrison is a second-grade teacher at Spring Place Elementary School in Chatsworth. Their daughter, Isabel, was also born at Hamilton. Isaac was born with achondroplasia, a bone growth disorder. His stay in the NICU was due to complications of the disorder. The Harrisons said he’s doing well now and in the 75-90 percentile on all measurements on the achondroplasia charts.

“He eats very well, sleeps very well, and is a great baby with an awesome personality,” said Mr. Harrison.

The Harrisons found out about Isaac’s condition about 10 days before he was to be born, and said they weren't sure where to have their baby after they found out about his condition.

Mr. Harrison had a conversation with Victor Thomas, MD, medical director of Hamilton’s Neonatal Services. “After our conversation with Dr. Thomas, I totally felt comfortable having him at Hamilton,” said Mr. Harrison. “We were so blessed that it (Isaac's birth) was here at Hamilton. It would have been much more difficult if we had to go to Chattanooga or Atlanta.”

Hamilton received Level III status in late 2011. In the past, a number of critically ill infants were transferred to facilities, some out of the state, that provided Level III NICU services. This renovation allows patients to stay near their home.

“One of the best things about Hamilton's NICU is the staff communication,” Mr. Harrison said. “Every day, they would give us an update. The doctors really listened to us and always answered our questions.”

Mrs. Harrison said though she didn’t like leaving her son, she never felt uncomfortable leaving him with the nurses. “They were always there to help in whatever way,” Mr. Harrison added. “When we weren't there to comfort him, the nurses were. They treat the babies like they're their own children. They have a genuine concern for them.”

“It’s a team effort,” Mr. Harrison said, commenting about the NICU physicians and nurses. “They really work well together,” he said. “Their customer service is first class.”