WAAY 31 got a first look at the new expansion of Huntsville Hospital's intensive care unit for newborns.
It's the only facility in North Alabama that can treat very small, very sick babies.
The newly expanded NICU has been in the works since this summer and will be able to treat 55 premature and sick infants, 10 more than they were able to before. Staffers said the expansion was needed with all the growth happening around North Alabama.
"This gives us an opportunity to help every baby in North Alabama that needs our assistance," Dr. Lee Morris, a neonatologist and the medical director of the NICU, said.
Morris said as the population in North Alabama increases, so does the need for a level 3 NICU. And, the space is greatly needed.
"We've had increasing patient numbers every year recently and really have been getting full in our current NICU that we have," Morris said.
Unit Director Cheryl Case said the added space will offer more privacy for families, which will help them be more involved in their baby's developmental growth.
"They can read to their baby, they can kangaroo their baby so there's lots of different ways they can be involved," Case said.
A significant amount of money for the expansion was paid for by the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund, which has raised millions of dollars for the hospital since 2005.
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