Will County’s First Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Officially Opens at Silver Cross Hospital
Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox today received approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health to officially open Will County’s first and only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Effective immediately, Silver Cross is now able to offer a level of care and convenience never before available to area residents.
With the opening of the new Amy, Matthew and Jay Vana Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Silver Cross Hospital, high-risk expectant mothers and critically ill babies no longer have to travel far for safe, advanced care. The 24-bed NICU is located on the third floor of the hospital’s new addition adjacent to the birthing center and features all single-family private rooms. Modeled after and staffed 24/7 by neonatologists from the NICU of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Silver Cross Hospital’s Level III NICU provides care for seriously ill or very premature newborns.
In 2021, nearly 3,200 babies were born at Silver Cross, making it the area’s busiest. But each year, nearly 50 babies require highly specialized care that was only available at a Level III nursery or NICU. In addition, that number does not account for the number of patients who leave the area and choose to deliver at a hospital that has a NICU for a higher level of care.
"For decades these children have been transported to a NICU, usually in downtown Chicago. You can only imagine the stress and worry this creates for parents during an already difficult time," said Ruth Colby, President/CEO of Silver Cross Hospital. "So, in keeping with our mission to improve the health of those we serve and advance wellness in our community, Silver Cross saw the need, and we set out to address it."
Planning for the NICU began in 2019 when the hospital received approval from the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to proceed with the construction of a NICU on the New Lenox campus. Construction began in late 2020 and, even with the challenges of the pandemic, was completed in February this year at a cost of $14 million. This new unit has been functioning as a Level IIE Nursery since March.
Equipped to Care for Sick Newborns
The Amy, Matthew and Jay Vana NICU is equipped to care for all newborns, including infants who may require help with breathing; maintaining temperature/blood sugar; IV fluids; antibiotics for infection; monitoring heart rate/breathing/oxygen; feeding by mouth; evaluation and support for congenital anomalies; support for prematurity; and medication treatment for withdrawal. It is also available to babies born at other nearby hospitals who need highly specialized care.
What’s more, Silver Cross Hospital’s NICU offers a quiet environment for sleep and recovery as well as space for parents to breastfeed, practice skin-to-skin bonding, and be intimately involved in their baby’s care. Other features include a comfortable family lounge and dedicated rooms for parents to spend the night before the baby is discharged, consultations with specialists, minor procedures and feeding preparation.
Expert Specialists Available 24/7
Patients are safely cared for 24/7 by a team of highly skilled neonatologists, neonatal nurse practitioners, neonatal nurses, therapists, and other caregivers and have immediate access to Lurie Children’s Hospital pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists.
“We have built a team of the best professionals in the area to provide neonatal intensive care close to home,” said Corryn Greenwood, M.D., neonatologist and Medical Director of the NICU at Silver Cross.
What’s more, specialized care starts long before delivery. Silver Cross has the region’s leading maternal-fetal medicine specialists on staff to care for women with complicated or high-risk pregnancies such as women with diabetes, high blood pressure, or advanced age.
“We have a team of highly trained, board-certified maternal-fetal specialists on staff who provide care for women who might be at risk for premature delivery. They work side-by-side with a woman’s obstetrician to ensure the healthiest possible pregnancy and delivery,” said Rebecca Kole, Director of the NICU.
Renowned specialist Dr. Xavier Pombar serves as the Medical Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Silver Cross.
The Vana Family
In appreciation of Tom and Michele Vana’s transformational gift to advance care for area newborns, the facility is named the Amy, Matthew and Jay Vana Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Silver Cross Hospital, after the couple’s triplets.
The Vana’s close ties to Silver Cross date back more than three decades when Tom and Michele met in Silver Cross Hospital’s Emergency Department. Michele was working as a registered nurse and Tom worked as a paramedic for his family’s business—Kurtz Ambulance Service. They married in 1990 and were overjoyed when they learned they were expecting triplets.
Twenty-nine weeks into her pregnancy, Michele went into premature labor delivering Amy, Jay, and Matthew on Oct. 10, 1995. Each weighed approximately two pounds and required months of intensive care.
“Tom and I want to make sure that other parents don’t have to experience what we went through; the stress and anxiety of making the long trip back and forth to Chicago for months to be with our tiny, sick newborns every minute of every day for nine weeks. Our investment along with that of many others ensures that our children and grandchildren and families throughout Will County and beyond will have access to the very best neonatal care nearby,” says Michele Vana.
“Silver Cross has always been committed to offering the highest level of care right in our community,” added Colby. “Our Amy, Matthew and Jay Vana Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Silver Cross does just that. And our partnership with Lurie’s will ensure our tiniest patients get the best care possible close to home.”
For more information or to make a charitable donation to support Silver Cross Hospital’s NICU, visit www.silvercross.org or call the Silver Cross Foundation at (815) 300-7105.