Babies, staff move into new Norton Suburban NICU unit


by Brooke Hasch

Posted on June 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 5 at 5:38 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- An elevator ride the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit is one no parent wants to take, but Thursday, Brian Tumey and his wife, Kimberly, were all smiles.

More than 40 babies moved into the new NICU at Norton Suburban Hospital off Dutchmans Lane. The major renovations were made possible with help from the WHAS Crusade for Children.

"It's gorgeous up here compared to what the upstairs, it was really nice, but it was really cramped and crowded. You only have four feet in between each bed. So, you can only get two people in there, and when you’re trying to nurse and pump, it's a little crowded," Brian Tumey, a NICU parent, said.

Tumey's daughter, Ava Grace, made a dramatic entrance into the world Saturday.

"All the odds were stacked against her, put it that way," Tumey said.

She's spent every day since inside the NICU. While we were at the NICU, Ava's nurses told her parents she'll get to come home in a matter of hours.

"Trying to make it through the day," Tumey laughed.

One by one, and sometimes by the twos, babies like Ava were transported to the new NICU on the hospital's fourth floor, in the east tower.

"It's amazing. It's incredible. I'm just blown away by how much space we have and how colorful, brand new it is. Our old unit was so dull, brown and gray and boring. No windows anywhere. We were all so cramped, so this is amazing," Katie Neel, a registered nurse in the NICU, said.

The new space is six times the size of the original, with 24 private rooms and 18 private spaces.

"It's not a normal situation, but they have some normal moments without the interference of other families and patients and staff members," Mary Jean Precious, the NICU's nurse manager, said.

"It just gives you a chance to have your own little personal space," Tumey said.

This may be the last day for the Tumey's, but for many other families, this space will provide an abundance of color, light and hope.

"In about a week, it will be interesting because once we get our grounds here, I don't think we'll ever know how we were able to work with the space we did," a NICU nurse said.