Construction Underway for the NICU at Essentia St. Mary's

By KBJR News 1

December 12, 2012 Updated Dec 12, 2012 at 11:22 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Premature babies will soon have a new neo-natal intensive care unit at Essentia St. Mary's Hospital.

The new unit will increase the comfort for both the babies and their families.

Loud noise is not welcome for premature babies such as Ava, who need a quiet environment to thrive.

"Going on four weeks, she's four weeks today," said Lisa Kangas.

Ava wasn't due until January of 2013. Her home for now is the crowed Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Essentia St. Mary's in Duluth.

"I think that ts kind cluttered here. And I think privacy is important and the nurses have to work so hard to put up these dividers up in between each patient. I mean it's hard to have privacy," said Kangas.

The hospital is in the beginning stages of building a new state of the art NICU facility.

The facility will have 18 separate rooms which will provide more privacy for the families.

Mothers will also be able to stay in the room with their babies.

"The new NICU will really enhance the patient experience. The main goal here will be patient and family centered care as well as improving our outcomes," said Dr. Lee Muskovitz, the NICU medical director.

Babies in the intensive care unit are very sensitive to noise and air quality, which is why the hospital has taken extra steps to ensure their comfort.

"We have little ear muffs that can go on their heads to try and reduce the amount of audible noise and there is also a major filtration system keeping the air clean during the construction process," said Muskovitz.

Ava and other babies have also been given the newborns little crochet hard hats in the spirit of the construction.

Ava's parents hope she can go home in the next couple of weeks.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.