Neonatal intensive care unit under construction at LewisGale Medical Center

Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 7:00 PM EDT
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - A project more than 10 years in the making is now taking shape at LewisGale Medical Center in Salem.

Construction of the new neonatal intensive care unit is underway. And when it’s completed, the facility will ensure that babies who need intensive care won’t have to be separated from their parents and sent to another hospital.

LewisGale broke ground on this $2.5 million renovation last October, but the project has been in the works for more than 10 years as the medical center worked to win state approval.

The neonatal intensive care unit is still a work in progress, but the medical professionals who work in the maternity department are following the construction with great anticipation.

Maternity Services Director Lisa Wade described the layout of the state-of-the art facility to a group of visitors. And she explained to reporters the importance of keeping families together at the Salem medical center when a baby needs intensive care.

“It’s huge, huge,” Wade said. “I can’t express enough how this is such a great addition to this community, and for this patient population.”

The state health commissioner ultimately approved the NICU in 2021.

Roanoke County Sen. David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke Co.) pushed the proposal in Richmond and introduced legislation to fast track the project.

“There’s just so much good that comes for a baby being with their mother in those early days and we want to make sure that’s possible,” Suetterlein said.

With 3,000 square feet of space, the new NICU will include six bassinets, with room to expand. And though it represents a major renovation, hospital leaders say they’ve tried to keep disruptions to a minimum.

Sean Tobin is Vice President of Operations.

“Certainly, it’s been a huge impact for us here at the hospital, but our construction partners have done an amazing job of minimizing patient impact while still moving the project forward,” he said.

The new neonatal intensive care unit at LewisGale Medical Center is set to open in November.