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University of Iowa News Release

April 2, 2004

New UI Maternity Center, NICU To Open At UI Hospitals And Clinics

Specialists at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City will soon begin delivering babies in a new UI Maternity Center and caring for premature and seriously ill infants in a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

The new facilities are located on the sixth level of the John Pappajohn Pavilion at UI Hospitals and Clinics. Staff and faculty will attend an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. today to tour the facility. Members of the public are invited to attend a grand opening event from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 4. Free parking is available for the grand opening celebration in Parking Lot 43, just west of Hospital Ramp III.

The new units are part of a $23.6 million project to build a new NICU, UI Maternity Center and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). An open house event and media tour of the new PICU took place on March 24.

"The new UI Maternity Center is literally a dream come true for our patients, faculty and staff," said Jennifer Niebyl, M.D., professor and head of the UI Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "We carefully planned the center to offer the most advanced and comprehensive obstetrical care available anywhere in a very comfortable, nurturing environment."

Childbirth specialists at UI Hospitals and Clinics delivered 1,450 newborns last year. The new UI Maternity Center provides eight labor and delivery rooms, 20 antepartum and postpartum rooms, and two surgery suites to accommodate cesarean section procedures. The new center also features a state-of-the-art fetal monitoring system, a dedicated ultrasound room for fetal and maternal diagnosis, and round-the-clock anesthesia and obstetrical services available on-site.

The new UI Maternity Center also offers a full range of labor support services, including natural childbirth, nurse-midwife care, lactation consultation and maternal-fetal medicine subspecialists (high risk pregnancy specialists). In addition, security features offer a very high level of safety.

Couples will also appreciate the family-centered care provided in the UI Maternity Center. The rooms offer a home-like environment, Internet access, and educational services. There are custom-made beds and whirlpool baths in the antepartum and postpartum rooms. The center also includes refreshment and waiting areas.

The UI Maternity Center is located adjacent to the new NICU, the only NICU in Iowa that provides a full range of services. The new NICU offers the most advanced technology available, access to the full spectrum of pediatric and surgical subspecialties, and comprehensive care from a very skilled multidisciplinary team. Infants who require surgery can undergo procedures right on the unit.

"Our outcomes are already outstanding. We are in the top 10 percent of NICUs in the nation in terms of our adjusted survival rates, but our current 46-bed unit has become very crowded because of our success," explained Edward Bell, M.D., UI professor of pediatrics and director of neonatology. "The new NICU is good for our faculty and staff, good for parents, and most importantly, good for babies."

The new NICU will provide 55 beds for infants arrayed in four bays. Caring for critically ill infants in single rooms provides several advantages, including better infection control, more privacy, a quieter environment and improved temperature control, a very important issue for premature babies.

Eight of the rooms are designed to allow parents to stay with their child. There are even specially designed suites that can accommodate twins and triplets. An advanced communications system will enable a very experienced nursing staff with specialized training in neonatal care to closely monitor their patients.

The new NICU also enhances the family-centered care philosophy. Features such as an advanced security system, Internet access and the Mother's Milk Bank all help faculty and staff care for the entire family. Parents and families will continue to have access to Baby CareLink, a secure, computer-based system that enables loved ones to track the progress of infants in the NICU. The family lounge provides showers, lockers, a kitchenette, lactation center, community area and consultation rooms. The larger patient rooms include specially designed rocker/recliner chairs to assist breastfeeding, closets for parents and more space for families.

A $400,000 gift from Hy-Vee, Iowa and Illinois Credit Unions, BP Amoco, Kiwanis and Re/Max to Children's Miracle Network helped fund the family lounges in the NICU and PICU.

Children's Hospital of Iowa at UI Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City is the state's longest-serving children's hospital. More than 100,000 children receive care at the Children's Hospital of Iowa and its statewide network of outreach clinics each year.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,