Silver Cross Hospital opens Will County’s 1st NICU

Dr. Corryn Greenwood: ‘This lets families and babies be together’

Director of NICU Becky Kole, left, and Shift Coordinator Michelle Kelly poses at the new NICU at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. Tuesday, July 26, 2022 in New Lenox.

A level III, 24-bed neonatal intensive care unit opened Monday on the third floor of Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox.

The Amy, Matthew and Jay Vana Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, located adjacent to the birthing center, cost $14 million and is modeled from the NICU at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, according to Silver Cross.

Neonatologists from Lurie Children’s Hospital will provide 24/7 care for very premature or seriously ill newborns, the first-time residents can access care on this level in Will County, Silver Cross said.

“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,” Ruth Colby, President/CEO of Silver Cross Hospital, said in a news release from 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.”

Dr. Corryn Greenwood, neonatologist and medical director of the NICU at Silver Cross, said that, depending on where parents lived, the closest NICU was 20 miles or more away from home, adding another burden to worried parents considering the cost of gas.

“This lets families and babies be together,” Greenwood said.

In addition, “highly trained, board-certified maternal-fetal specialists are on staff at Silver Cross to care for women at risk for premature delivery, Rebecca Kole is the director of Silver Cross’ NICU, said in the news release.

“They work side-by-side with a woman’s obstetrician to ensure the healthiest possible pregnancy and delivery,” Kole said in the release.

According to the March of Dimes, a level III NICU cares for babies born before 32 weeks or weigh less than 1,500 grams., who need surgery, who need equipment to breathe or stay alive or who are critically ill, regardless of age or weight.

“We can offer prolonged ventilation with conventional ventilators and high frequency ventilators,” Greenwood said. “We’ll be able to do EEGS to monitor brain activity and monitor for seizures. We’ll be able to do surgeries.

Common surgeries in critically ill babies may include the insertion of a feeding tube, hernia repair and the removal of injured bowel tissue if the baby has necrotizing enterocolitis, Greenwood said.

Michele Vana of New Lenox said in a 2021 Herald-News story that she first heard about Silver Cross Hospital’s plans to build a Level III, 24-bed neonatal intensive care until at a foundation meeting and discussed with her husband Tom Vana about making the transformational donation, she said.

Vana, a member of the Silver Cross Foundation’s volunteer board of directors, said she told her husband, Tom Vana, later that night, “Honey, I have a favor,” and was delighted to see that Tom “didn’t hesitate, either” when Michele insisted, “We need to figure out how to do this.”

The couple’s triplets, Amy, Jay and Matthew Vana, were born Oct. 10, 1995, at a Chicago hospital. They weighed less than 2 pounds each. None required intubation, but all three wound up in the NICU. Michele was discharged 72 hours later

Michele said in 2021 that a NICU close to home in Will County “just tugged on my heartstrings” and will be “such a gift to the community.”

Dr. Xavier Pombar is the medical director of maternal-fetal medicine at Silver Cross.Rebecca Kole is the director of the NICU.

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Timeline of the Amy, Matthew and Jay Vana Neonatal Intensive Care Unit:

· 2019: Silver Cross 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.

· 2020: Construction began late in the year and was completed in February 2022

· 2021: Nearly 3,200 babies were born at Silver Cross. Approximately 50 each year need NICU or more specialized care.

· 2021: Tom and Michele Van of New Lenox make undisclosed transformational gift toward the NICU.

· 2021: Childerguild donated $350,000 toward the NICU

· 2022: In April, CITGO donated $5,000 to the NICU.

· 2022: In April, U.S. Sen, Dick Durbin and State Sen. Michael E. Hastings D-Frankfort toured the NICU.

· 2022: Childerguild donated $420,000 to fund 12 single-family private rooms and a nurse care station in the NICU.

According to Silver Cross, the hospital’s NICU can provide:

· Care for infants who may require help with breathing, maintaining temperature/blood sugar

· IV fluids

· Antibiotics for infection

· Monitoring of heart rate/breathing/oxygen

· Feeding by mouth

· Evaluation and support for congenital anomalies

· Support for prematurity

· Medication treatment for withdrawal.

· Care to babies born at other nearby hospitals who need highly specialized care.

· Space for parents to breastfeed, practice skin-to-skin bonding and be intimately involved in their baby’s care.

· A comfortable family lounge

· Dedicated rooms for parents to spend the night before the baby is discharged

· Consultations with specialists, minor procedures and feeding preparation.

· A team of highly skilled neonatologists, neonatal nurse practitioners, neonatal nurses, therapists, and other caregivers

· Immediate access to Lurie Children’s Hospital pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists.

· Maternal-fetal medicine specialists on staff for complicated or high-risk pregnancies such as women with diabetes, high blood pressure, or advanced age.