Baptist Health Paducah welcomes 2500th NICU admission

Baptist Health Paducah. February 02, 2023

The John and Loree Eckstein neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Baptist Health Paducah has reached a significant milestone of admitting 2,500 babies. 

(PADUCAH, KY) February 2 - The John and Loree Eckstein neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Baptist Health Paducah has reached a significant milestone of admitting 2,500 babies. The NICU opened in 2011, but almost tripled in size when it moved into a new 8,000-square-foot wing in February 2017, fully funded by donor support to the Baptist Health Foundation Paducah.

In 2018, it earned distinction as a Level III NICU, becoming the only Level III NICU in western Kentucky. A level III NICU can care for very small or very sick newborns boasting a wide variety of specialized on-site staff of specialty trained neonatal nurses, neonatologists and therapists – all trained in high-risk neonatal care. The NICU admits approximately 215 babies each year with the majority needing extra help breathing, regulating body temperature and eating. Most of the admissions are of term or late preterm babies. Approximately 30% of admissions make up babies younger than 32 weeks.

“We are so fortunate to have such a generous community who saw the need for an expanded NICU that offers such specialized equipment. Admitting 2500 babies to our Level III NICU since 2011 is an amazing accomplishment because that means we have been able to keep 2,500 families right here in Paducah,” said Lisa Parnell, Maternal Child Services Director. “Our NICU allows families to remain in their homes and continue to maintain their jobs, while also being able to care for their newborn.”

Edward O’Neill, MD, is the hospital’s neonatologist who’s been working in the NICU since 2011. “Two thousand five hundred admissions since 2011 is substantial. That is 10% of Paducah’s population. Prior to that date, those moms and babies had to leave this area,” said O’Neill. “Being able to care for your own family where you live is enormously helpful – say you have other children, and are trying to breastfeed – being close really means a lot. Having your baby sent somewhere else is a big stressor for parents. We are lucky to have really strong staff – we have speech therapists, occupational therapists, lactation specialists, respiratory therapists – all of whom have training in how to take care of infants and special premature newborns.”

Baptist Health Paducah introduced its neonatal transport service in 2018, made possible by the generous support of Ronnie and Paula James, has allowed infants to be transported to Baptist from outside hospitals to receive care. “The transport team has also helped us in increasing our number of patients because now we are able to serve those from Murray, Jackson Purchase and Lourdes as well,” said O’Neill.

The NICU hosts three types of rooms: six private rooms for the most critical babies that offer enough space for parents to sleep in the rooms, or are large enough for families with twins or triplets; six midsize private rooms offer recliners and gliders for parent’s comfort; six additional bays for babies needing observation, with curtain privacy. Each room features The Cappock Family Cams, equipment made possible thanks to Mike and Caroline Cappock, are perched on top of NICU isolettes, allowing family members to log in to view the baby at any time, often easing anxiety and calming fears.

Located in the hallway outside the NICU, is the Seiner Family Wall of Hope featuring NICU graduates that offers hope and a peace of mind to current NICU families. In addition to the wall, the Seiner family later established a f und to support NICU families with hardships they may face during that time.

In addition to the patient rooms the NICU also offers special rooms for breastfeeding, respiratory, physical, and occupational therapies and a NICU transport room.

To learn more about how to become involved in the ongoing advancement of our neonatal services, contact the foundation at 270.575.2849.