Hadassah spends $2 million to expand neonatal care units

At 9 a.m. Monday, hospitalized infants will be moved to a rebuilt wing on the sixth floor.

hadassah hospital arad (photo credit: Oz Schechter)
hadassah hospital arad
(photo credit: Oz Schechter)
Although every hospital takes a financial loss from treating premature newborns, the Hadassah Medical Organization has invested $2 million to increase its neonatal intermediate and intensive care and significantly upgrade the quality of facilities at its Hadassah-University Medical Center on Jerusalem's Mount Scopus. The State Comptroller's Report a few years ago strongly criticized the Health Ministry for failing to ensure adequate high-level and spacious neonatal intensive care facilities around the country; the lack of such units raised the mortality rate among infants way beyond minimum levels At 9 a.m. Monday, hospitalized infants will be moved to a rebuilt wing on the sixth floor that previously housed laboratories, with the smallest babies and those in the most precarious condition to be kept in hi-tech incubators that cost $36,000 apiece and reduce the need to touch or remove the babies for monitoring and treatment. These beds, which move up and down with the press of a foot pedal, can weigh and respirate babies without them being removed from their protective covered beds. Prof. Ilan Arad, head of the neonatal and premature baby department, and hospital director-general Prof. Zvi Stern told reporters on a press tour Sunday that they and their staff have waited a decade for these plans to be carried out. Mount Scopus's previous neonatal intensive care unit was crowded, had outdated equipment and room for only 16 beds, while the new one is roomy, attractive and has space for 20 to 24 beds. Half of them will be allocated to babies who need intermediate care and the rest to those in life-threatening condition who require intensive care. Many babies remain in the hospital for months, so the unit is a home away from home not only for the infants, but also for the parents, especially the mothers, who can pump breast milk in privacy and give "kangaroo care" by holding them close to their bare skin. Unit chief nurse Keren Scheffer explained that an effort was made to minimize noise, which is very disturbing to premature babies, and to dim the lights whenever possible. The unit's intensive care wing has American- and German-made equipment that hangs from the ceiling and covers wires, easing floor cleaning and thus minimizing the biggest danger to low birth weight infants - bacteria. As Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem has only 10 beds suited for intermediate care, babies who need the Mount Scopus facility will be transferred there by special ambulance. The new 600-square-meter unit will treat some 250 babies a year, 30 percent to 40% of whom were born as a result of fertility treatment.