LewisGale breaks ground on new neonatal care unit

The $2.5M project is set to be completed in July 2023

SALEM, Va. – Construction on the neonatal intensive care unit at LewisGale will finally begin after 12 long years of waiting.

State Senator David Suetterlein has pushed to have the unit since 2011.

“There were a lot of roadblocks, there was some formal opposition along the way, and then sometimes it was simply bureaucratic opposition,” Suetterlein said.

Some legislators questioned the need for the unit when Carilion already had one in Roanoke.

“We had to continue to show them and bring patients and patients’ families up to the state capital that there is a need, and even if that was one time a year, that would be a huge need for that family,” Market President of LewisGale Regional Health Systems Alan Fabian said.

One of those families was the Livelys, whose son Cliff was born in need of a NICU.

“We had no idea that the NICU was a thing or that we would be needing to utilize those services until that night,” Liz Lively said.

With no NICU at LewisGale, Scott Lively had to make many trips between LewisGale to see his wife, and Carilion to see Cliff.

“It was very stressful, you don’t know if you’re spending enough time and who you’re spending enough time with,” Scott said.

Liz did not see Cliff until she was released from LewisGale.

“I felt incomplete and not whole like something was missing,” Liz said.

The Livelys said the new NICU will allow mothers and babies to receive care all under one roof.

“Families don’t have to be split up,” Liz said.

“If things don’t go as they hoped and their baby needs extra care, their baby will get that care just down the hall from them,” Suetterlein said.

The $2.5 million project is set to be completed in July 2023.

About the Author

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.

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