NICU expansion to begin in January

NICU expansion to support patient, family experience

When a newborn needs critical medical attention, families seek highly skilled medical experts who provide the best quality clinical care with access to the most innovative technology. Our Neonatal ICU at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital is the first place many babies call home.

Since 1970, our neonatal physicians, nurses and caregivers have provided specialized care to thousands of tiny patients, some small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Their expertise has put our neonatology program among the nation’s best, and it was recently ranked 37th nationwide in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals rankings.

As a result, we face an ever-increasing demand for neonatal care — for infants born here or transferred from other hospitals. Our NICU was designed for 52 patients but it frequently accommodates 60 babies at a time. Nevertheless, our teams maintain world-class levels of care. Now we’re ready to expand and provide infants and their loved ones with more space, privacy and support. Upcoming renovations will result in a family focused, comfortable environment where our teams can provide the leading-edge neonatal care for which they’re known.

NICU renovations at a glance

  • Construction begins in January 2016
  • NICU II and III will expand from a combined 12,632 square feet to 20,844 square feet
  • 16 new care pods will add eight level III beds (increasing from 22 to 30) and eight level II beds (increasing from 30 to 38)
  • Four private rooms to accommodate family members
  • Dedicated neonatal neuro ICU section
  • Waiting room will include a sibling play area
  • Designated breastfeeding areas
  • Warm, comforting design and nature theme
  • Input from faculty, staff and patient family advisors
  • Mock-up rooms created by UF Health Shands Facilities architects and experts and tested by staff for usability

Inpatient Unit 32 will be used during the transition to house neonatal patients. NICU III patients will move into the new space in fall 2016, followed by NICU II patients in spring 2017. The construction budget for the project is $20.7 million.

“We have outstanding physicians with the best training in the world, and we want our families to have access to some of the best neonatologists, pediatric surgeons, cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and other pediatric subspecialists. Our nurses, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists and pharmacists work only with newborns and they have chosen to take care of the sickest babies in the region. This experience and philosophy has led to our success and national recognition. This expansion allows us to expand our high level of services to more deserving families.”

— David Burchfield, M.D., UF College of Medicine division of neonatology chief

“Every day I am inspired by the people who work in the NICU. Each person, no matter what their job, is devoted to the babies and their families and focused on doing what they can to bring healing and comfort in such difficult circumstances. They do what they do because they love what they do — and it shows. I am so thrilled that parents will have the space they need to be with their babies and the team will have the space they need to do their work in the very best way.”

— Beth Talaga, M.S.N., ARNP, UF Health