BILLINGS - The Billings medical corridor is in constant “building mode” to meet the needs of a growing community, but if you’ve driven down North 27th Street lately, you may have wondered just what was going into the huge new expansion on the Billings Clinic campus.
The huge addition and a team of trained medical experts will soon support a whole new environment for the region’s tiniest patients and their families. The money raised from this year’s Billings Clinic Classic Fundraiser will go toward the $3.5 million capital campaign to build a new neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the hospital.
The Billings Clinic NICU is 22 years old, and technology and delivery of care has dramatically changed over the years. That need to expand will push the current neonatal intensive care unit from 4,325 square feet to approximately 13,540 square feet.
This is all welcome news to Taylor Pohle and her husband, Aaron. They recently spent some time in the NICU after their third daughter Addison was born.
After a successful C-section, their baby suffered respiratory distress and was whisked off to neonatal intensive care.
The Pohles say they are lucky. It didn’t take long for Addison to recover. They know other families are in for the long haul, and that means a long time in tight quarters.
“I think the staff does a really good job of making you feel comfortable here,” said Taylor, “but it is a very small space and you're separated from other families by curtains, and you can overhear different situations and other kiddos crying."
The original space, which opened 22 years ago, was built for fewer than 10 infants.
“It was intended more for short-term use, meaning babies who may be there for a couple of days or maybe a couple of weeks,” said Dr. Nadine Seger, “and now we have patients who are going to be there for weeks, months. We have a number of patients who are there well over 100 days.”
Taylor Pohle also welcomes the addition of daylight in the new space. The current NICU is in the center of the maternity floor with no outside windows.
“That it would be awesome to have light even just to know if it's night or daytime,” said Taylor.
Light, space and what the last two decades have taught the experts: The right combination of family.
Dr. Seger says family is essential for babies.
“They need the stimulation and the touch of their parents. They need to hear the voices of their parents. Families are an integral part for the care of these infants. We know that parent involvement is very important to the outcomes. So having a space where families feel welcome, when they have the opportunity to stay at the bedside, is huge,” Seger said.
The new NICU is expected to be complete by spring of 2022.