Big Steps for Small Wonders

September 19, 2011

The lobby of the new Neonatal

Intensive Care Unit

The new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

will be able to accomodate 56 babies.

Take a virtual tour.


St. John’s Foundation for Community Health entertained more than 150 invited community guests Sept. 17, 2011 to learn more about expansion of the neonatal intensive care unit and how it will impact healthcare of pre-term infants for generations to come.

The Foundation also recognized founding board members Allen Casey, Jerry Clark, Carol DeHaven and Don Landon for 10 years of service, and past president Mike Peters. St. John’s launched the foundation in 2001 and has granted more than $16 million dollars for projects both at St. John’s and in support of community programs. Approximately $7 million of that went to help nursing students obtain an education.  “The generosity of donors and their caring about what’s happening in our community is what makes this all possible,” says Jon Swope, St. John’s Health System president / CEO.

Big Steps for Small Wonders: Making Strides toward a New Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

One in 10 babies will require intensive medical care immediately after birth, according to the March of Dimes.  With the mission in mind of providing compassionate and personalized care, St. John’s is currently expanding and revitalizing the level II neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).   

The new NICU will nearly double its current capacity, accommodating 56 babies and providing a warm and private environment for them and their families.

Currently, St. John’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit  “auditorium style.” Infant beds share the same open space in a busy, bustling room. The majority of activity— from scrub areas to nurses’ stations to family interaction—takes place in this room.

Although a multi-baby ward was state-of-the-art in the 1980s, it now has recognized limitations.

The 28-bed NICU is at capacity. Moms and dads spend time with their babies in a large multi-patient room. Families may feel in the way of caregivers and even be witnessing the heartbreak of other parents. Excessive noise and stimulus is not in best interest of babies. All of this adds to the stress that parents and babies are already experiencing.

Single-patient rooms better meet the unique, changing needs of each baby. The rooms allow staff to limit or permit outside stimulus as baby develops. Nurses will still be close at hand, but parents can experience enhanced, private, hands-on participation in their baby’s care. And “twin” rooms can accommodate multiple-birth siblings.  Comfortable seating in a private setting helps lessen stress on parents during this challenging time—which can extend for weeks or longer.

A Better Footprint

The proposed plan can accommodate 56 babies with 27 single-patient rooms, eight multiple-birth rooms, three isolation (protective environment) rooms, and one multiple-birth isolation room. Each room will be baby-centered, with adjacent nursing care and a private seating area for parents.

The new NICU also includes a family lounge, meditation and bereavement rooms, nutrition room, family consult and sibling play area, and a reception area— all designed for the care of babies and comfort of families. A soothing decor and use of decorative glass allow visibility for nurses and serene aesthetics.

The plans for the new NICU is a small part of a grander strategic plan for expansion of Children’s Hospital, emergency room services and the construction of a heart hospital on the Springfield campus.

Supplemental Materials

Media Contacts

Sonya Kullmann
Berryville, Branson, Cassville, Lebanon, Mountain View, Rolla, Springfield, Aurora
Phone: 417-820-2426