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State Approves Kadlec Newborn ICU Expansion Plan


Kadlec Regional Medical Center has learned that its plan to expand its highly regarded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has been approved by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). 

Kadlec last year applied to the state for a Certificate of Need to designate 15 beds in its NICU for Level III care, allowing it space to care for most all critically ill infants. The state approval also gives Kadlec authorization to use 12 beds for Level II intermediate nursery care. Kadlec is one of only two Level III units in Eastern Washington. 

“This is great news for our community and region,” said Anthony Hadeed, MD, medical director of Kadlec’s NICU. “We have seen our patient demand grow significantly. The state’s decision will give us much needed ability to grow to meet the needs of our patients.”

Kadlec has highly skilled neonatologists and nurses available around the clock for any newborn needing special medical care. Babies in the NICU weigh from 1 to 12 pounds and the average length of stay ranges from a few hours to more than 3 months. The NICU accommodates up to 15 babies at any given time, plus houses advanced medical equipment used to treat “preemies” and other fragile young patients. The unit also has a parent room for quiet time and consultations with physicians and a twin isolette, especially designed to keep the twins together. 

Kadlec’s NICU operated at more than 80% capacity, based on 2008 statistics. It was also at 80% occupancy in 2007. Both figures are significantly higher than the state’s target of 65%. Patient days are growing every year. In summary, Kadlec’s NICU is full today. And the state has agreed that it should expand.

As a regional referral center, Kadlec has close ties with all the hospitals in southeast Washington and northeast Oregon. Nearly one-fourth of Kadlec’s NICU patient days are from babies from outside Benton and Franklin counties. For the past 3 years, Kadlec has had an increasingly close affiliation with Seattle Children’s Hospital, the region’s premier pediatrics center. Kadlec and Children’s collaborate on treatment and training protocols and Kadlec’s neonatologists are members of the medical staff at Seattle Children’s.

“We are offering more and more children’s services that allow patients to stay close to home for their care,” said Kelly Harper, RN, Kadlec maternal child services manager. “The state’s approval is a validation of the work done in the NICU by our dedicated team of professionals.”

With an expanded NICU, families will be able to have their infants treated locally – instead of having to travel to Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma or Portland during an extremely trying time. The state’s approval paves the way for the next steps in planning for construction of a new NICU at Kadlec.