Expansion is on the Horizon for the NCH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

SAVING OUR TINIEST TREASURES: Expansion is on the Horizon for the NCH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

By Kelly Merritt

Take one look at the babies in the NCH neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and it’s not hard to see why the nurses and doctors call them little miracles. These tiny bundles of joy melt and break hearts at the same time, as caregivers facilitate their survival and family members pray for it.

But such small treasures require a lot of care and lifesaving equipment. It’s worth every penny, but pennies pile up. That’s why multiple teams of people are coming together to raise the money needed for a major expansion of the NICU at the NCH North Naples Hospital.NCH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

The NCH Healthcare Foundation, the fundraising arm of the not-for-profit NCH Healthcare System, is leading the charge to raise enough money to increase the square footage for more beds and purchase additional equipment.

The goal is to literally double the size of the NICU from nine to eighteen beds, as the current number of beds falls short of the average census on any given day. When there are no available NICU beds to care for a sick or premature baby, NCH must send the fragile newborn to other healthcare facilities, sometimes far from home, creating a difficult situation for the entire family.

To help keep babies born at NCH near their families and close to home, the 54th annual Hospital Ball, to be held on October 27th at the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort, will raise much needed money for the expansion. Each year, a special NCH department or program is the beneficiary of the Ball’s proceeds. On this special night, more than 600 guests will join together to show their support for the NICU.

Another goal of the fundraising campaign is to raise dollars for Giraffe® Omnibeds. Actually, NICU Nurse Manager Catherine Ravelo, BSN, RN would like six of them. The Unit currently has two.

“Giraffe® neonatal Omnibeds are very special isolettes that properly position babies and provide a safe and protective healing environment that promotes developmental support. They also allow for quick and accurate assessment of weight in the bed, minimizing unnecessary baby stimulation, and other specialized functions that result in better outcomes for the babies,” Ravelo said.

These hardworking Omnibeds carry a hefty price tag, upwards of $45,000 each. “It’s an investment worth making, and the NCH Foundation is turning to the community for help. Gifts, large and small, add up quickly and make a big impact on our ability to provide these special beds to the babies who need them most,” says Jim Martin, Chief Development Officer for the NCH Healthcare Foundation.

“The Hospital Ball is just the beginning. The NICU expansion and its future success rely on the generosity of those who want to provide a healthier future for children in our community. It’s an ongoing need,” says Martin.

Ravelo adds, “I firmly believe that Collier County deserves to have a family-centered facility. And these babies are not just a diagnosis--they become family.”

For those who are interested in supporting the lifesaving work of the NICU, the NCH Foundation’s website www.nchmd.org/give is the best place to start. There, you can learn more about attending the Hospital Ball, making a tax-deductible donation or helping to fund a specific need by designating your gift towards the purchase of an item like a Giraffe® Omnibed.

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