Lufkin hospital celebrates 5 years of NICU program within community

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Lufkin’s Woodland Heights Medical Center is celebrating it’s fifth year of neonatal intensive care unit.

Children who were once babies of the NICU are now returning to celebrate the birthday of the hospital’s program.

“He was born at 34 weeks, really tiny. He was four pounds, 14 ounces,” said Araceli Martinez, a mother to a child who’s a year and half-years-old.

“It was (hard), but I had my sister so she had a daughter in the NICU and gave me like a lot of support." said Araceli. "She knew the words to tell me. She would text me everyday in the morning letting me know what to do and stuff.”

She and her sister Alma both had their firstborns in the same NICU. On Sunday, they reflected on their journey and the struggles during their pregnancies saying they relied on each other during the challenging time.

“She was born on my birthday, yea that’s crazy. We have the same birthday so I was really excited,” said Alma referring to her first born, a 4-year-old girl. “But it was really hard because I did have to leave her there she was there for about a month after she was born.”

Program Director for the Newborn ICU Dr. Linda Chase said since the hospital’s opening of the nursery, they have undergone an expansion.

I don’t think there was a Newborn ICU for 90 miles. When Woodland Heights took a leap of faith and opened up the newborn ICU, originally we had 6 beds, 4 little ones and (now) we currently have 15," Chase said. “Because couple of years into it they realized we didn’t have enough space.”

The Woodland Heights Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit began at the end of 2013.

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