Woodland Heights debuts the first ever NICU in Lufkin

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Mothers in Lufkin and Nacogdoches will no longer have to travel hours away for neonatal intensive care. The first ever level two NICU in deep East Texas will be ready for infants December 1. The six bed area was displayed for the community to see Thursday night at Woodland Heights Medical Center. Physicians explained to those taking a tour how vital this new addition is.

A few years ago, a group of East Texas children's health care providers realized the need for neonatal services in the area.

"We thought that given the number of deliveries in this county and surrounding areas that the hospitals could develop a fairly successful newborn nursery and neonatal intensive care nursery," said pediatrician George Fidone.

After months of construction and preparation at Woodland Heights the level two neonatal intensive care unit is ready.

"It will be for babies that are often premature or have mild to moderate complications as a consequence of being born early or babies that are born on time but have other health related issues that would require a more careful observation in the initial days after birth," Fidone said.

For many of those babies they will be able to stay in Lufkin now rather than being put in a helicopter or ambulance to be sent hours away to another hospital for care.

"It's going to be really great to have people closer to home. The travel takes a lot out of you having to relocate and not being able to be near your child," Jennifer Winston said.

Jennifer Winston gave birth to her daughter Elliott six years ago who was born prematurely in Houston.

Thursday night, the community had the chance to tour the six bed area that accommodates mothers with private rooms.

"Some people are a little hesitant about actually bringing their babies here or if they're getting discharged from a bigger facility they have questions," said Woodland Heights NICU nurse Brittany Ramsey. "Can they send them here? Will they be safe here? I hope that they just trust us. We're going to take care of their babies."

The NICUwill be ready for infants December 1, 2013. The last addition to the women's center will be a new nursing station that will be ready in January.

Copyright 2013 KTRE. All rights reserved.