Sentara RMH hoping to expand to add NICU

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Sentara RMH is hoping to add a neonatal intensive care unit to the hospital in 2020. The hospital announced on Wednesday they have submitted a letter of intent to begin the process to increase the level of care.

Sentara RMH currently can care for some premature babies, but if a baby needs to be treated in the NICU, they need to go to a different hospital. | Credit: WHSV

Currently, Sentara RMH has the capability to care for some infants who are born early. The current level of care is Intermediate Acuity and they are able to treat six babies. However, if the hospital is able to expand, thy would become a Specialty Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and add five more bassinets.

The addition of the NICU also means mothers and their children would be able to stay in the area. Right now, if a baby needs to go to a NICU, they are transported either to the University of Virginia Medical Center or other hospitals.

"We want to be able to provide that service here in our community for many reasons," Dr. Cathy Slusher, Medical Director of the Sentara RMH Family Birthplace. "Mainly because it is our community and we want to keep our families together with their support persons."

The hospital said they will submit the official application in January, where it will be reviewed prior to hearings. A final decision could come in late spring or early summer.