UK HealthCare opens new Kentucky Children’s Hospital lobby, NICU in Chandler Hospital

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) – Kentucky Children’s Hospital unveiled the new Makenna Foundation Welcome Center and Betti Ruth Robinson Taylor Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital.


Designated in 1988, KCH lacked a central lobby and registration space, and was only accessible via a single visitor elevator. This spacious center includes patient and visitor registration, a gift shop, a digital interactive wall, and a large-scale art installation called "Exuberance," which is comprised of marble-filled kites suspended from the ceiling.


The welcome center includes the Simpson Family Theater which will host events and programs coordinated by KCH's Child Life Department, and a gift shop stocked with child and family-focused items.


The Pediatric Health Education Center, located in the welcome center, is a resource for both parents and children that offers child-centric health information education. It will also serve as a business center for parents and families.


Beyond the welcome center is the new Betti Ruth Robinson Taylor Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This 36,000-square foot facility replaces the current NICU on the KCH's fourth floor. The new facility will allow the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit to expand into the newly vacated space.


"This new facility is a dream come true for our team," said Dr. Scottie B. Day, physician-in-chief of Kentucky Children's Hospital. "We partnered with doctors, nurses and staff, as well as our patient-parent advisory group to create a space where we can deliver advanced care to our most vulnerable patients."


The new NICU has 68 patient rooms, including two twin rooms, for a total of 70 beds. Each room has a daybed so parents can stay with their babies as much as possible.


"This NICU is the result of the careful collaboration for which UK HealthCare is known," said Gwen Moreland, assistant chief nurse executive of Kentucky Children's Hospital. "Invaluable input from our staff, patients and families, support from our donors and boards, and the creativity of our designers and engineers culminated with this space, an integral piece of supporting UK's mission to provide advanced patient care."


The new NICU is a far cry from UK's first premature nursery, established in 1972. Dr. Nirmala Desai recalls a unit with no specialized equipment for premature babies, outfitted only with the leftovers from other units in the hospital.


"I fought hard to get the bare minimum, from baby-sized bag valve masks to a radiant warmer," Desai said. "We didn't have enough beds for the babies; they were put two to a bed."

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