CAPE CORAL, Fla.- A special care nursery at Cape Coral Hospital is now open again, after it was closed for the past year.
The 10-bed nursery was closed while staff members trained on a new electronic records system.
The nursery reopened on October 2, and has some new features as well.
Michelle Waddell, Neo-natal services director, says the nursery is for babies who need a little extra attention. "Whether they are going through drug withdrawal or need photo-therapy for jaundice, if they are low birth weight and need to eat and grow, just basic diagnosis where they aren't healthy enough to stay with their mom but don't need to go to the level 3 NICU."
During the past year, doctors had to transfer those newborns from Cape Coral to Healthpark Medical Center, and sometimes even out of the area when Healthpark's 48 beds filled up.
Waddell says, "for many of the families that was across the river, quite a distance for them, some families don't have transportation every day, so taking the baby out of the community was a necessity but also provided a hardship for the families."
Nurse Toni Bowers also saw the struggles some families faced while the babies were transferred. "If they are trying to feed their babies every 3 hours, to come back and forth from one city to another doesn't seem like a big deal unless you realize they do it 4,5,6 times a day, with other children, that's hard."
Waddell hopes they won't have to send babies out of the area again now that both nurseries are running.
Some of the babies may have to be at the hospital for months, so not having to travel so far is a big weight off the parents' shoulders.
During the past year, Waddell says they also made some upgrades to the nursery. "We updated the flooring and the lighting to bring it up to date for sound and light reasons. Babies born prematurely have different needs, we need to keep the sound levels down and the lighting down because it has an effect on their eyes."
About 6,000 babies are born throughout Lee Memorial Heath System hospitals every year, and about 600-700 of them require care in the NICU.