Construction planned for new Neonatal Care Center
The new Neonatal Care Center will serve all newborns in the Negev. More than 16,000 babies are born every year at Soroka Medical Center, more than at any other hospital in Israel. The new Neonatal Care Center will also be fully protected against missiles from Gaza in accord with the standards of the Israeli Home Front Command.
The Neonatal Department at Soroka Medical Center serves the one million residents of the Negev. It is the busiest and one of the leading neonatal departments in Israel. The department was the first neonatal unit in Israel complying with the demanding international standards of ISO 9001, ensuring the most advanced medical treatment. Due in part to the recent increase in treatments for infertility, the number of infants needing special medical attention is on the rise. More than 15% of all newborn infants have serious medical problems requiring intensive or special care. In the sole medical center serving the entire southern region of Israel, the Soroka Neonatal Intensive and Special Care units care for several thousand infants per year.
The neonatal medical team at Soroka has pioneered a unique model of family centered care that allows premature and other babies needing special care to start life in a caring atmosphere that increases both the probability and the quality of survival.
The physical conditions of the existing Neonatal Department, built in the 1980's, are outmoded and no longer sufficient or appropriate. At times, babies in need of neonatal intensive care must be sent far to other parts of the country as free beds are not available due to lack of space. As the sole medical center in the Negev, our mission is to serve the entire population that depends on us. Not being able to do so is simply unacceptable. At its time, the unit was built with the then most modern concept of penetration of daylight through windows and glass bricks in the ceiling. During the War in Gaza and repeatedly since then, this has become a dangerous trap.
When under threat or attack, the neonatal team is forced to immediately evacuate all new mothers and infants from the Neonatal Department to protected quarters. While there is risk in moving premature babies, the risk of injury or worse from missiles is intolerable. Working under direct threat in a complex operation that enlists the human and technological prowess of our doctors and nursing staff, and assisted by the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command, the infants and mothers are transferred to a protected building and must remain there during the entire period of the threat. We have been forced to evacuate and move the unit repeatedly as Beer Sheva and Soroka have repeatedly come under missile attack.
Neonatal Care Today
The Neonatal Department staff includes 8 senior neonatalogists, 5 pediatricians in-training, and 80 nursing and support personnel. The unit’s guiding principles are to place emphasis on the infant's health and safety, engage parents' maximum involvement, and ensure proper preparation of the family to assume responsibility for the care of their infant. The chairperson and physicians of Soroka’s Neonatal Care Center are also deeply involved in bringing the best neonatal care to developing countries. Since 2002 the team has been involved in a unique program in Ghana in collaboration with the Israel Ministry of External Affairs and the Millennium Cities Initiative aimed at reducing infant mortality while applying innovative concepts of low cost interventions and sustainability.
The Neonatal Department is divided into four sections:
- Delivery Room section and triage
- Neonatal Intensive Care Unit treating premature and very sick infants
- Special Care Unit for moderately sick babies and near preterm infants
- Step down Recovery Unit for infants before discharge
Healthy newborns are cared for in the maternity wards with full rooming-in with their mothers.
At present units of the Neonatal Department occupy separate areas, far from each other and the delivery room services. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is located on the ground floor of an old building that is unprotected against missile attack. The upper floor of another building houses the Special Care and Recovery Units which are also not protected from missile attacks. Due to the physical distance separating the buildings, the staff is forced to function as separate professional teams in separate spaces, a situation which creates hardship for the medical professionals, the families, and the staff. Each of the units is smaller than needed according to today's criteria for treating infants and caring for their families.
- Urgent need to construct a missile-proof facility in accordance with the security dictates of the area
- Increase the number of beds to the 88 now needed, responding to the natural increase of population
- Include in the new building and care environment the fast-paced advancing technology of neonatal care
- Respond to the facility needs in keeping with new concepts of family centered neonatal care
- Accommodate the needs of teaching an increasing number of medical students and other healthcare professionals trained in the department, more than 150 each year
To expand and protect the neonatal care facilities to care for all infants born to the families of the entire southern half of Israel, providing them with medical care of the highest standards in a family-centered approach pioneered at Soroka Medical Center. The expanded and protected facility will allow medical staff to provide the excellent care needed to best nurture these newest Israelis, these most vulnerable infants and their families.
Neonatal Care in the Future
The new Neonatal Care Center will make it possible to implement the highest standard of care aimed at improving neonatal outcomes and the highly improved conditions will allow us to implement the principles of Family-Centered Care to the fullest.
Neonatal Triage - The neonatal team including physicians and nurses will function in the delivery rooms providing for the resuscitation and stabilization needs of all babies before they are moved to rooming-in or to any of the other neonatal units.
Single Family Treatment Rooms (the equivalent of private rooms elsewhere in the hospital) - These forty single family treatment rooms will be the heart of the new facility, with sufficient space to allow at least one of the parents to comfortably care for their infant throughout the day.
Open Bay Areas - Each of these care areas will accommodate eight incubators for care of premature infants.
Procedure Rooms - As some infants are very sick and their condition unstable they cannot be moved to an operating room; some surgical procedures need to be done within the NICU. This includes laser therapy for the eyes and lifesaving surgical procedures.
Facilities will be included to increase the family’s independence before discharge. Leaving the highly monitored intensive care environment is often a significant challenge for parents; these rooms allow a smooth landing in the transition back to home and community. Training for parents will include both group and individual instruction.
Pharmacy - The Neonatal Care Center must include its own specially designed pharmacy providing all needed essential drugs and fluids for neonates around the clock. Drugs and neonatal infusion solutions will be prepared individually for each infant under strict flow conditions.
Laboratory - It is essential that the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit has its own laboratory services. This includes lab testing for blood gasses bilirubin, hematology, kidney function, and urine tests as well as radiology and processing. The laboratory in the NICU will provide services on an ongoing and emergency basis, where distance and access are important considerations.
Breast Milk Pumping Facilities will provide convenient arrangements for the mothers to express and store milk.
Family Rooms will be welcoming areas for siblings and other family members accompanying the parents and will include resources such as books, pamphlets, and instructional films on infant care, links to information on the internet, and activities for siblings.
Multidisciplinary Support Area for physical and occupational therapists, dieticians and pharmacists, and others involved in the complex multidisciplinary approach to the care and treatment of newborns.
Medical Training - The neonatal department is involved each year in the training of medical students from Ben-Gurion University’s Medical School and The Medical School for International Health, a joint venture with Columbia University, as well as paramedical students, medical residents and fellows.
Donation and Donor Recognition
This urgent and important project will be of major proportions. The new Neonatal Care Center will include an area of 5,500 square meters (more than 59,000 square feet).
The total cost of the new expanded and protected facility will be $20,000,000.
The new Neonatal Care Center can be named by the donor for a gift of $10,000,000, with matching funds provided by Soroka Medical Center.
Naming of components of the neonatal care center will also be possible. These will include the single family treatment rooms, procedure rooms, open bay incubator areas, pharmacy, laboratory, family rooms, and more.
Full and very prominent donor recognition will be provided at the Neonatal Care Center and at the Donors' Wall of Honor of Soroka Medical Center. The facility will be dedicated at a major dignified public dedication ceremony. In addition, the donor will be recognized in all publicity and publications of the Neonatal Care Center.
Thank you for your consideration of this proposal and request