Doctors and administrators took a break from their busy schedules Tuesday to don plastic pink, blue and yellow hard hats and celebrate the groundbreaking of the new $3 million neonatal intensive care unit at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital.
The six-bed, six-bedroom space will be unique to the area, according to Cecilia Pyzow, the hospital’s director of business development.
“Years ago, when my three kids were born here, until today, the absence of a NICU has been something of a great need for this hospital,” said Keith Hobbs, whose tenure as CEO at the hospital began about 15 months ago. “This has been the top priority. I can’t tell you how important this is, to me personally, to be able to deliver this finally.”
Dr. Steven Hartford, who was on his way to deliver his 6,246th baby in the hospital, said the new addition will be appreciated by his patients.
“The main thing is that you want the reassurance that, No. 1, the baby is going to be well taken care of if there’s a problem and, No. 2, you don’t want to have to transfer the baby to another facility while the mother is still here because that separation puts a lot of emotional distress on the parents,” Hartford said.
Each of the rooms in the sixth-floor NICU will be equipped with a “NIC-View,” or a 24/7 web camera system that will allow parents to have a secure way to view their babies remotely. That system will be paid for, Hobbs said, entirely by funds raised at the USC-VHH Foundation 26th Annual Golf Classic on Monday, where attendees donated $31,000 in less than 20 minutes to fund the program, and more.
“You could see how much buzz and excitement there was from our local community,” Hobbs said.
The NICU is being built in place of what was formerly the critical care unit, said Pyzow, who said those beds were transferred to the fourth floor.
“I thought this would never happen, until you got here,” Dr. Happy Khana told Hobbs. “Since you have been here, I’ve had positive thoughts about it. I think I will be crying when it [opens]. I’m really, really proud.”
Following an opening ceremony on Aug. 24, the NICU is scheduled to be ready for patients in September, Hobbs said.