An expansion at Huntsville Hospital's Women and Children center will provide more beds for babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
The NICU treats premature and critically ill babies. Currently at Huntsville Hospital, the NICU cares for 1,100 babies per year. With the expansion of the wing, 10 more beds will be added.
Ruth Stafford lives in Hazel Green and says Huntsville Hospital's NICU holds a special place in her heart.
"They saved my niece's life when she was in the NICU 30 years ago," Stafford said.
Now, the facility is expanding to take care of even more babies that need it. Cheryl Case, the NICU Director at Huntsville Hospital, says the hospital needs to prepare for the growing population.
"It's been needed for awhile, just to allow us to not only care for current patients in unit, but also prepare for future growth," Case said.
Currently, the NICU has 45 beds. The expansion will create room for 10 more. It may not sound like much, but Case calls it a big upgrade. She says the center is landlocked and the building itself can't expand, so they have to get creative.
"Take a look at office space, a waiting area, and to conceptually see it turned into 10 new beds is exciting, and to see it finally being implemented," Case said.
The new space will give nurses and parents more room, in addition to the equipment and supplies needed. Stafford says the job of a NICU is priceless.
"I think it's wonderful, save a child's life, it's everything," Stafford said.
Huntsville Hospital has the only Level III NICU in North Alabama, taking care of babies with critical illnesses. The entire project is expected to be done by November.