Pikeville Medical Center to expand NICU

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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Pikeville Medical Center is expanding its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with new funding from a certificate of need the hospital applied for last year.

The funding will allow the hospital to get eight more beds for its NICU, bringing the total to 16. While that opens the space for more babies, it also changes the NICU's classification, which offers more of an option for families to treat their babies at PMC.

Under its original "Level 2" status, the hospital is able to treat babies born after 32 weeks. Once the new beds have been added, that status moves to "Level 2 Advanced," which opens the beds to babies born after 29 weeks.

"We have the capability to be able to take care of younger babies and now we're able to do that. So, it's very exciting. We'll be able to keep our babies closer to home now," said Director of Women's and Children's Services Tondra Blevins.

She said that helps the hospital but is also a great relief to parents of premature babies.

"You know, these babies that we were having to send to UK can stay here," she said. "So, financially, it's going to help this community and this region greatly."

She said keeping babies close to families and being able to treat more premature patients is a win-win for everyone.

Blevins said the exact timeframe is still being worked out, but the hospital hopes to see movement with the project by summer 2020.

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