By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
NICU grows at Rockdale Medical

Rockdale Medical Center is set to unveil the $5.5 million expansion of its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which is doubling from eight to 16 beds, and newly renovated Birth Place wing in a ribbon cutting on Tuesday.

The hospital began its expansion and renovation last fall in a response to the demand they were seeing for beds, said RMC CEO Deborah Armstrong. At times, the NICU, a level II center, has already seen up to 16 beds occupied at a time.

“We built this to keep up with the need,” said Armstrong. The NICU expansion was built with additional growth in mind and the hospital has applied to go up to 20 beds.

The hospital saw about 275 admissions to the NICU and about 1,900 deliveries in general during 2012. About 40 percent of Birth Place patients were from Rockdale and the rest were from surrounding areas such as Newton and Walton. However, Armstrong pointed out, about 78 percent of babies in Rockdale were born at RMC.

Having an expanded NICU available close by provides a much needed service for local families, said Women’s Services Director Anita Razor.

“It’s much easier on the family to come here than to drive to Atlanta,” said Razor. And family bonding and presence is important for the recovery of the child, she said. “Touching the baby and being around family helps not only the baby but helps the family” get used to caring for a premature baby or a baby with special medical needs.

To that end, the design of the expansion and renovation was done with the families in mind. “It’s centered around the families and what’s comfortable for them,” said Razor. 

For instance, instead of babies all being kept together in one room, there are more single rooms to allow mothers to breast feed privately. Panels on the wall serve as decorative patches of color and modify the acoustics in the room. The hospital also worked with local company Acuity Brands, which provided nearly 90 percent of the lighting in the NICU and Birth Place, to find lighting that was not glaring and less stressful for premature eyes.

The architectural firm was Hinson, Miller & Kickirillo, which also designed the hospital’s East Tower, the general contractor was Batten & Shaw, and local construction was overseen by Ben Mance.

The expansion will more than double the size of the Birth Place wing to about 12,500 square feet. That expansion includes a new surgery room, a surgery recovery room, where mothers can be closely monitored after surgery, and a four-bed triage room.

The Birth Place will now have 17 labor and delivery rooms, 28 mother-baby rooms, and 16 beds in the NICU. 

The labor and delivery rooms are also being updated with a new aesthetically pleasing appearance.

The NICU was started in 2000 by Dr. Leslie Leigh and Dr. Dan Suskind with just four beds. 

In Tuesday’s ribbon cutting service, Dr. Leigh and Dr. Suskind will be on hand to celebrate the growth of the NICU, along with LifePoint CMO Lanny Copeland and Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden.