IDAHO FALLS — Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center celebrated the grand opening of its Women and Infants Center and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Tuesday.
Called "Building Beautiful," the $20 million, 11-month construction project included a floor-to-ceiling renovation of the former Women's Center and the construction of a new 24,000 square-foot Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Guests received guided tours of the facility to get a first-hand look at the patient rooms and technology and expertise available in the NICU.
"The facility is amazing," said Michelle Ziel, who is 32 weeks along in her first pregnancy. "I'm very comforted by the environment."
The new labor and delivery suites and patient rooms sport all-new furnishings including birthing beds that convert during delivery, allowing mothers to labor and deliver in the same room. The amenities also include walk-in showers with massage sprayers and benches, comfortable sleeping accommodations for a spouse or overnight guest, wireless Internet, a flat-screen television and cabinetry that hides medical equipment when not in use.
Ziel toured the facility and said she got the opportunity to speak to staff and doctors in the unit about the equipment and what to expect when she delivers her baby.
"They really made me feel good about choosing EIRMC," Ziel said.
The NICU has 26 semi-private critical care bays and the capacity to care for as many as 33 infants at once. On average, there are 16 newborns in the NICU every day, said Coleen Niemann, marketing and community relations specialist at EIRMC.
EIRMC provides care for premature, fragile or sick infants born in Eastern Idaho, Western Wyoming, Southern Montana and Northern Utah. The facility holds a Level III(b) NICU designation, meaning the hospital can resuscitate and support babies born as early as 22 weeks and as small as one pound. The nearest hospital with equivalent capabilities is 180 miles from Idaho Falls.
"There's no longer a choice between the most plush and the safest hospital to deliver in," Niemann said.
The NICU also includes three new operating and procedure rooms to perform laser eye surgeries to prevent retinopathy-related blindness, cleft lip and cleft palette repairs and small cardiac procedures.
Doug Crabtree, Chief Executive Officer at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, expressed his appreciation for everyone who helped construct and develop the project as well as the doctors and staff who work there every day.
"There's a lot of work that goes into taking care of these babies," Crabtree said.
The $20 million capital investment to fund the project was provided entirely by HCA, EIRMC’s parent company, and did not involve community debt or use of taxpayer dollars.
Also at the grand opening, Crabtreee presented donations to the March of Dimes to help end birth defects and Help, Inc. to fight child abuse.