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Primary Children's Hospital opens new ICU for infant care

Posted at 12:29 PM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-16 19:49:04-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital has unveiled a new newborn intensive care unit for the region’s youngest and most critical patients.

Amber Brown and Kyle West expected a healthy child before their baby Sutton was delivered seven months ago.

“We were expecting a normal everything. We were prepared as much as we thought possible and never saw it coming,” said Brown.

The Wyoming family quickly learned Sutton suffered from spina bifida, hydrocephalus, a heart arrhythmia and a club foot. He spent 34 days in the newborn intensive care unit at Primary Children’s Hospital.

“Just leaving every single night, I was filled with anxiety. I just wanted to cry,” said Brown.

The NICU was a crowded facility built in the late 1980s, putting multiple babies together in a room with little space left for parents.

“We knew that it wasn’t the right environment to really care for these patients,” said Primary Children’s Hospital’s Katy Welkie.

The new center is twice as big, roughly 34,000 square feet with 48 individual patient rooms. Each has a couch for parents to sleep.

“This means you can stay longer and bond with your baby. You don’t have to leave,” said newborn ICU director Kara Curnen.

“I would have killed for a couch,” Brown joked.

NICU patients often stay much longer in hospitals than older patients. The new facility has state-of-the-art technology to treat and monitor newborns and a separate area for parents to be together and get support.

“Our new NICU has provided a wonderful environment for our NICU families,” said Curnen.