A pregnancy begins one of the most wonderful chapters of any parent’s life. Unfortunately, too many families find their babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU,) struggling to survive. Navigating this new, chaotic world can be stressful and overwhelming for parents, especially if they aren’t provided the privacy and comfort they need.
That’s why Hinsdale Hospital Foundation is embarking on a critical campaign to raise $15 million for the lifesaving expansion and renovation of their Level III NICU at AdventHealth Hinsdale, formerly known as AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center, Hinsdale, and always known locally as simply, Hinsdale Hospital.
A group of philanthropic women were happy to lend a helping hand to bring this initiative to life: Hinsdale Hospital Board and NICU Campaign Cabinet Members Katherine Karvelas and Shana Robertson, and NICU Campaign Cabinet Member Kari Galassi. These ladies all have one thing in common; their love for Hinsdale and the surrounding communities.
While the AdventHealth Hinsdale NICU has an incredible, highly qualified team, the unit hasn’t been renovated in 20 years. “At the present time, privacy is nearly nonexistent,” says Karvelas, who understands from first-hand experience the importance of a comfortable NICU stay. “The NICU renovation project is so important to help our families grieve, heal, and express their most private moments, in private. While we can’t control some of the other challenges that life presents, we absolutely can provide a safe, quiet, and private space in which to find comfort, peace, and solace during one of life’s most trying times.”
Babies admitted to the NICU are premature (born before 37 weeks), have low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds) or have a medical condition requiring treatment. The NICU staff at AdventHealth Hinsdale treat complex issues from immature lungs, neurological concerns, respiratory failure, and other abnormalities—care that warrants a dramatic upgrade to the current caring environment, both for them and the families they serve.
Out of the 28 beds, only three are private. Space is tight, and most consultations take place bedside within ear shot of other families. A comfortable NICU stay can make all the difference for grieving and frightened families, and a quiet space to bond with parents is proven to lower babies’ stress levels and aid in development.
On top of privacy issues and constantly worrying about whether their baby will survive, these parents face numerous struggles, such as leaving the hospital knowing their baby must be in someone else’s care; finding time to see their other children while being at the hospital with their baby all day, the space and accommodations to sit—especially moms just recovering from childbirth—by the bedside comfortably, and returning to work quickly in order to save leave-time for when their new baby goes home.
After touring the NICU, Galassi was moved to get involved. “My husband and I were blessed to have three healthy babies,” she shares. “I can’t imagine the fear of having a baby in the NICU, and if we can give these families a more comfortable stay, it would be a blessing.”
Some features of the NICU renovation will include private patient rooms with space for parents to stay overnight, a family lounge with a refreshments area and work area, a reflection/prayer room, a consultation room; staff office space, new cutting-edge equipment, in-unit restroom facilities, and wraparound support from physical therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, speech therapists, and social workers.
This campaign is counting on the Hinsdale community for this dream to become a reality. “There are so many generous people who live in Hinsdale—generous with their time, talent and resources,” says Robinson. “Giving back to the community is key to a community staying strong. The NICU was of particular interest to me as two of my three children spent time there. There’s an incredible team working on this effort, led by long-time Hinsdale OBGYN Dr. Lanny Wilson (Chairman of the NICU Campaign Cabinet,) and I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Of the nearly 3,000 babies born at Hinsdale Hospital each year, about 10 percent will need NICU care—that’s 300 babies. Galassi understands how hard it is to truly comprehend what life in the NICU is like until you see one for yourself, which is why she’s scheduled nearly 50 tours. “I believe observing the current space and understanding what these families are dealing with is the best way to motivate people to contribute to the project,” she says. “Our community already has a top-notch staff in our level III NICU, but we need the facilities to meet that level of care.”
Construction is scheduled to start this summer, with occupancy in mid-2024. Of the $15 million campaign, Hinsdale Hospital Foundation is raising $5 million. With this NICU renovation, the hospital will be able to expand their capacity to care for the community’s tiniest and sickest babies.
“If I wasn’t able to express my pain, confusion, sadness, and fear in private, or speak or sing to my tiny little newborn at my leisure, all while trying to heal post-surgery, the experience would have been even more painful and traumatic,” Karvelas adds. “I implore our community members to please take the time to tour the current NICU to gain a better understanding of the goal and objective of this project, consider supporting our efforts with either a charitable donation or joining us at one of our upcoming events, and reach out to us for more information.”
For more information, visit adventhealth.com/foundation/adventhealth-foundation-great-lakes/adventhealth-foundation-great-lakes-hinsdale.