LewisGale continues push for its own on-site NICU

New application submitted summer 2018

SALEM, Va. – Carilion Clinic has the only neonatal intensive care unit in our area, but LewisGale Medical Center believes there is a need to have another NICU within its system, to give families another option and expand care for our region's youngest patients.
For the fourth time in seven years, LewisGale has submitted an application to the state health commissioner, seeking to provide a NICU for patients, and the medical centers feels this newest application is more compelling than those from previous years.
LewisGale said it is they're averaging 1,000 births a year and is at the point where it needs a neonatal intensive care unit. 

Marsha Myers, the chief operating officer, said, "Having an on-site NICU here at LewisGale Medical Center is the standard of care for newborns, services and, really, this is just an expansion of our already newborn services that we provide."

The medical center has been trying to get a NICU since 2011, to take care of newborns who have special medical needs not met in a hospital nursery. When asked about the denials of applications in the past, 10 News was sent this statement:

"We are, understandably, reluctant to speak for the Commissioner as to why applications were not approved in the past.  However, we are optimistic that the Commissioner will agree that our current application meets a public need," Nancy May, Spokesperson, LewisGale Regional Health System. 


The first hour of a newborn's life is the most critical hour and is referred to as the "golden hour." 

"It prevents us from having a tragic outcome," said Myers. 

As stated on page 16 of the application, when transport services are not available, the results can be devastating, as reflected in the death of an infant born at LGMC.

Myers said that right now, if a newborn needs extra care and services,  the baby will be transported to the regional NICU at Carilion or to another provider.  

"Mothers should be able to stay here at LewisGale Medical Center when they give birth and not not have to choose or have the risk of being separated from infants during this critical time," said Myers. 

LewisGale started an online petition  to support its newest application for a NICU. Carilion Clinic sent a statement about the efforts by Lewis Gale. 

We value the collaborative relationship we have with HCA Lewis Gale, centered around the needs of our patients and communities. We understand Lewis Gale is again interested in a regional NICU for its hospitals that would be situated at Lewis Gale Medical Center in Salem. In general, we agree with HCA that the Virginia Department of Health, Division of Certificate of Public Need, is in the best position to determine need for additional services under the purview of the state's COPN regulations, including NICU beds to serve this region, and whether to grant a Certificate. With that in mind, we do not oppose their application.

LewisGale will have a public hearing on the matter on Oct. 8, to give stakeholders, providers and families an opportunity to speak on behalf of the application. The hearing will be held at the Salem Public Library.

"We gained numerous support from public officials, our providers and patients and families that this is what we really need to do for our community," said Myers.