Most expectant mothers enjoy optimistic dreams of delivering a healthy baby and soon leaving the hospital with their new bundle of joy.
“Sometimes, it just doesn’t work that way,” said Lisa Wall, whose son has been hospitalized in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital since he was born two months prematurely? in April. “It’s a big deal; it’s heartbreaking.”
After she delivered her son at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, Wall counted the seconds until she could visit him again in the neonatal intensive care unit.
“You just want to sit with your baby and have a private conversation, you know, tell them what you did that day,” said Wall. “You want to say things that are between the two of you, maybe sing to them or just talk about what you would like to do once they are healthy enough to go home with you.”
This wasn’t always easy in a NICU designed to house several babies in a ward-like setting that became crowded with equipment and lacked privacy for families. Now, mothers like Wall enjoy sleeping – and even bathing - in the same space as her baby in spacious, private suites.
The new 64-suite NICU, which includes 15 Level II and 49 Level III beds, is part of a $75 million expansion that opened last week at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital in Tampa, where about 7,000 babies are born each year.
Wall is delighted to take advantage of this new opportunity. “I get up every three hours for feedings,” she said. “I hear him cry, and I can feed him and rock him to sleep all in the privacy of our own bedroom. It’s a luxury to have the privacy; it makes all of this bearable.”
The initial driving force behind the expansion was the community’s need for additional NICU services. While the suites are beautifully designed to accommodate overnight guests – complete with a full bathroom – the new building offers more than just comfort and convenience for new parents.
Each NICU room provides a calm, subdued, womb-like setting designed to help premature babies grow and develop faster. Private suites improve patient safety and babies thrive in spaces where the environment can be adjusted to their unique developmental needs. The entire family benefits by having the opportunity to spend time together bonding. And the new rooms provide ample space to accommodate the latest high-tech and life-sustaining equipment.
The NICU occupies two floors of the five-story addition that also doubles the size of the hospital’s previous breast imaging center. On the ground floor, the new Hinks and Elaine Shimberg Breast Center offers comprehensive diagnostic tools and resources, all conveniently located in one place and staffed by a compassionate team of professionals committed to the patients they serve. Services include CT scanner, ultrasound, DEXA scan, digital mammography, state-of-the-art MRI, Computer-aided Detection (CAD) and minimally invasive biopsies. Along with the most current technology, patients receive the personal attention of an experienced interventional team, which includes board-certified radiologists, physician assistants, biopsy technologist, nurse navigator and biopsy scheduler.
“The philosophy of compassionate care goes back to the Franciscan sisters who started this hospital more than 75 years ago, and we want to help St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital take care of every person who walks through these doors,” said Elaine Shimberg, who along with her husband, Hinks, provided the lead naming gift for the new breast center.
The hospital expansion also includes 36 private patient suites exclusively for new mothers and a dedicated 16-bed gynecology unit for medical and surgical patients.
Interdisciplinary teams are devoted to the individualized care of the gynecological patient. A Midlife Nurse Navigator is on staff to provide resources for the patients and family members, and facilitate the hospital experience.
The expansion includes the following amenities:
• All private NICU suites with an in-room family area
• All-digital diagnostic imaging services
• All private suites for Women’s Care patients (obstetrics, gynecology, surgical) with full bathroom and in-room family area
• Wireless communications and Internet access
• Easy registration/admitting with Biometric Palm Scanning
St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, part of BayCare Health System, is the only facility in the Tampa Bay area dedicated to caring for women and infants. For more than 30 years, St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital has offered women one setting for their medical needs.