Northeast Minnesota’s only neonatal intensive care unit is about to grow.
Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center is preparing to open 18 gleaming individual patient rooms at the end of the month, giving families a private place to sleep closer to their babies and more than doubling the square footage for the unit.
The new $5.2 million space is funded partly through $2.5 million in charitable donations. Donors got a first look at the new NICU last week, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
While the old unit had three sleeping rooms that families shared, the new individual rooms will each have a foldout couch, a refrigerator and a place to keep personal items.
Cindy Kent, director of nursing at the children’s hospital, said the new setup will mean quieter rooms with adjustable lights and a better space to help parents and babies bond.
“It’s been shown to help babies grow faster, be able to eat better,” she said.
Hospital officials said the unit serves about 300 babies a year in the region, coming from as far as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.