Growing for Our Smallest Patients

Children’s Hospital unveils $3.1 million neonatal ICU expansion

T.J., the MU Children’s Hospital mascot, helps cut the ribbon at an open house for the hospital’s renovated Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on Dec. 8, 2014. From left: Michelle Kemp, Columbia Chamber of Commerce ambassador; T.J.; John Pardalos, MD, medical director of the NICU; Judy Bildner, RN, nurse manager; and Keri Simon, executive director of MU’s Women’s and Children’s Hospitalc

The December 2014 expansion of the MU Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) adds 10 additional beds and brings the total number of specialty beds to 48.

The NICU now includes:

  • 20 single-patient rooms
  • Two lactation areas, giving new mothers private space for feeding
  • A family-infant room where families can stay overnight with their newborns to simulate how it might be once the newborn is at home and away from constant medical care
  • Mobile X-ray storage
  • A new laboratory

The MU Children’s Hospital NICU team cares for more than 500 premature and critically ill infants each year. The highly skilled, multidisciplinary team of health care professionals includes specially trained nurses, physicians, respiratory care practitioners, advanced practice nurses, social workers and pharmacists.

Since the NICU at MU Children’s Hospital was established in 1971, more than 22,000 babies have received care in the unit.

“The much-needed expansion will allow us to offer the outstanding care from our specialists to more children and families from rural and mid-Missouri,” said Keri Simon, MBA, executive director of MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital. “This new space creates a more patient-and-family- centered environment, which enables our team to deliver the best care and experience possible. All of the additions promote the participation of the family in the baby’s care and transition to home.”

Each of the single patient rooms is equipped with “smart room” technology. A monitor near the child displays a 24-hour record of the baby’s vital signs, giving physicians and nurses immediate access to important information.

“Before, all of this information was in a paper chart, but now we can see how the child is doing from the moment we walk in,” said John Pardalos, MD, medical director of the Division of Neonatology and Children’s Hospital Transport Service and associate professor in the Department of Child Health at the MU School of Medicine. “This latest technology is more efficient and designed with the baby and family in mind, and it also gives us the option to add even more automated capabilities in the future.”

Construction and new equipment in the NICU was funded through several donations, including a $1 million pledge from MizzouThon, the largest student- run philanthropy at the University of Missouri. The NICU has been renamed the MizzouThon Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in recognition of the group’s pledge.