UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital announces Neonatal Intensive Care Unit expansion

The neonatal intensive care unit at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital will be undergoing an expansion to grow the number of beds that can accommodate the hospital’s tiniest, most vulnerable patients.

Transformation of the adjacent NICU II and NICU III units from a combined 12,632 square feet to a total of 20,844 square feet will begin in January 2016. There will be 16 new care pods — adding eight level III beds (increasing from 22 to 30) and eight level II beds (increasing from 30 to 38) — as well as four private rooms that accommodate family members. Additionally, there will be a dedicated neonatal neuro intensive care unit section to monitor and care for infants with brain injury. The waiting area will include a sibling play area. The unit will also have dedicated breastfeeding areas, and a warm and comforting design with a nature theme in harmony with the rest of the children’s hospital.

“We are thrilled about our neonatal intensive care unit as the next step in the development of the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital,” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health. “In this new facility, our talented and highly devoted faculty and staff will provide state-of the-art care for our smallest, most vulnerable patients and their loving families.”

Construction will be completed in phases. Phase one completion will have NICU III patients moving into the new space in fall 2016, followed by NICU II patients in spring 2017. The construction budget for the project is $20.7 million.

Since 1970, UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital neonatal physicians, nurses and caregivers have provided specialized care to thousands of tiny patients, some small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. This clinical expertise has put its neonatology program among the nation’s best. Consequently, there’s an ever-increasing demand for neonatal care, for tiny patients born on site or infants transferred from throughout the state. 

The NICU renovations will result in a family-focused, comfortable environment in which medical teams can develop the leading-edge neonatal care for which they’re known.

 “The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is where lives and futures begin,” said Scott Rivkees, M.D., UF College of Medicine pediatrics chair and UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital physician-in-chief. “Every day, we ask ourselves what can we do better for these boys and girls, and what do their parents expect of us? I'm very proud that we will soon have a new facility that will help us build upon the wonderful care that these children receive.”

Project preparation involved UF Health faculty, staff and patient family advisors, who studied best practices in NICU design and provided input. UF Health Shands Facilities architects and experts collaborated with external architects who specialize in children’s care facilities. They created mock-up rooms that staff tested for usability before finalizing plans. The priority is to provide the best possible patient and family experience while supporting staff with the most advanced care space.

“It is imperative that we increase our capacity to serve families,” said David Burchfield, M.D., UF College of Medicine division of neonatology chief. “We want our families to have access to some of the best neonatologists, pediatric surgeons, cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and other pediatric subspecialists. Our team of nurses, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists and pharmacists work only with newborns and they have chosen to take care of the sickest babies in the region. This expansion allows us to expand our high level of services to more deserving families.”