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Ribbon cut for new Allison Family Neonatal ICU at Bridgeport campus of Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

BRIDGEPORT, CT (Feb. 14, 2018) – Funded entirely through $7 million in philanthropic giving to the Bridgeport Hospital Foundation, the modernized Allison Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is now open at the Bridgeport campus of Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital. A ribbon cutting by unit and hospital leaders took place Feb. 14. The new unit was dedicated to Robert Herzlinger, MD, medical leader of the unit for more than 40 years. 

“The NICU project significantly enhances the already exceptional care provided to our tiniest patients and their families,” Dr. Herzlinger said. “We can never entirely remove the fear and anxiety parents feel when their child is in the NICU but these improvements to the environment will make the experience more comfortable and easier to bear for infants and their parents.”

“From the new medication and formula preparation room to the advanced technology in monitoring and responding to infant’s needs, the new NICU enhances nurses’ ability to provide safe, efficient care,” added Julie Brown, RN, longtime nurse manager of the Bridgeport NICU and YNHCH associate director of Pediatrics. 

The new unit includes 10 private rooms and eight semi-private rooms. “Individual or private rooms have been shown to reduce infections, encourage breastfeeding allow families to stay with their infants and improve long term outcomes for newborns,” Dr. Herzlinger said.

The unit also has a new overnight room for families. Softer lighting and noise reduction measures have been added to treatment areas to create a calmer, more healing environment to promote babies’ development. A new central nurses’ station allows for easier monitoring, which helps staff identify and quickly respond to the needs of infants.

“Family-centered care that is so important to the healthy development of our premature babies, said neonatologist Cheryl Menzies, MD. “The new NICU not only has larger, more private patient areas to promote safe, high quality, family-centered care, the increased privacy decreases the risk of infection and gives parents the calm, quiet environment to support their child.”

The first NICU at Bridgeport Hospital was established in 1972 in a separate wing of the pediatric floor. It moved to its current location during a 1998 upgrade. In 2012, through Bridgeport Hospital’s membership in Yale New Haven Health, the NICU and other pediatric services were consolidated under Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital (YNHCH), which brought a wider ranger and higher level of subspecialty services to patients and their families in the Bridgeport area, including an outpatient subspecialty center at Park Avenue Medical Center in Trumbull. 

Begun in late 2016, the latest NICU modernization project significantly enhances the already exceptional care provided to premature and critically ill infants and their families. Built within the existing 6,000-square-foot footprint of the NICU that dated back to 1998 and additional surrounding rooms, the new unit makes more efficient use of space thanks to an optimized floor plan. 

The project is unprecedented in the 30-year history of the Foundation. Normally, the Foundation raises a portion of project cost and the balance is paid with hospital capital funds. A scarcity of resources caused by the state budget crunch required the hospital to devote more funds toward badly need infrastructure repairs and rely on philanthropy to pay for the NICU modernization. 

“We accepted the challenge,” said Bridgeport Hospital Foundation President Steve Jakab.  “The Allison family of Westport stepped up with major naming gift of $3 million, leaving the Foundation to raise the balance from other donors. The commitment from the Allison family provided assurance that rest of the fundraising would be successful.”

Bridgeport Hospital, part of Yale New Haven Health, is a non-profit 501-bed acute care hospital with two campuses (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale New Haven Children's Hospital). Its Bridgeport and Milford Campuses serve patients from across the region. The hospital admits more than 23,000 patients and provides nearly 350,000 outpatient treatments annually. The Connecticut Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital is the only burn center in the state and one of only 64 verified burn centers in the United States. Bridgeport Hospital is committed to providing safe, compassionate and cost efficient care to its patients and the community.