Monday, April 4, 2011 12:00 AM

NICU grows, advanced technology keeps moms and babies together

When Marci stayed in Community Regional Medical Center’s antepartum (before birth) unit prior to the delivery of her triplets she knew her babies would probably require a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

“I was so thrilled knowing that they would go to the NICU at Community [Regional],” Marci said. “And that I would be able to see them for the next three or four days while I was in the hospital and whatever care they needed they would get to stay at Community [Regional].”

Marci’s high-risk pregnancy and the soon-to-be born triplets needed the special care that only Community Regional provides in the Valley, all the while allowing mom and baby to stay together for their care.

“It’s so exciting that we can now provide this option to families – keeping mother and baby together is so important,” said Lynn Emas, director of women and children’s services at Community Regional.

Community Regional’s Level III NICU is growing – from 65- to 84-beds – making it one of the largest in California.

As it moves into its third year of operation, Emas is excited about the growth of the NICU: “We do close to 640 deliveries a month with approximately 12% of those babies admitted to the NICU monthly, and this year we accepted about 120 neonatal transfers from other hospitals – compared to 40 transfers in 2008-09, a significant increase.”

Community Regional serves as the high-risk pregnancy and birthing center for a five-county region and for the past several years has delivered the most under-3 pound babies in the state. So for those most fragile newborns Community Regional’s Level III NICU is always ready. The NICU has the most advanced technology to treat babies with special needs.

“The biggest concern for the baby is to have to transport to another medical center; and it is best for the baby to be born at a hospital with high-risk obstetric services and a Level III intensive care nursery,” said Emas.

Marci felt that being with her babies at Community Regional, with all its specialists and leading-edge technology, was the best choice for her family when she gave birth in December 2008.

“So because of the NICU I have three babies that were cared for beautifully. It’s an amazing, amazing NICU and my husband Todd and I are extremely grateful to all of the donors of the community that helped make that happen.”

This story was reported by Jennifer Avila-Allen and Shannon Merritt. They can be reached at