AHN Opens New, State-of-the-Art Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at West Penn Hospital

Updated on August 20, 2019

Allegheny Health Network’s (AHN) West Penn Hospital today unveiled a new $23 million Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) featuring all-private rooms and state-of-the-art treatment capabilities that will afford premature and critically ill infants the highest level of care and comfort.  

The biggest expansion in the history of the West Penn’s NICU, the new 23-bed, 16,500-square-foot unit allows family members to sleep-in with their babies, and includes three rooms specially designed for twins. A large lounge area provides parents space to relax and interact with other families, and kitchen facilities are available. When parents (or grandparents) can’t be at the child’s bedside, NICVIEW cameras allow them to visit with and monitor their babies from any location using a smart phone, tablet or laptop. 

West Penn’s NICU treats more than 1,000 critically ill infants annually from more than 200 communities throughout western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.  The hospital is a leading referral center for advanced neonatal care, with a specialized nurse transport team on call around-the-clock. 

“For more than half a century, the extraordinary caregivers in West Penn’s NICU have been a tremendous source of hope and life-saving care for the smallest and most vulnerable among us, and their families, ” said Cynthia Hundorfean, President and CEO, Allegheny Health Network. “We are thrilled to open this amazing new facility that will further expand and enhance our ability to fulfill that promise for current and future generations.” 

Nearly 8,000 babies were born in 2018 at AHN hospitals, a 60% increase over the past five years. West Penn delivered approximately 4,000 babies last year and an estimated 20 percent of all births at the hospital are considered high-risk.  

“At AHN we have long provided high-quality, personalized care to the women of western Pennsylvania and the tri-state area, and to their children,” said Allan Klapper, MD, Chair, AHN Women and Children Institute. “Over the past five years, Highmark Health and AHN have made significant investments in physician recruitment, new programs and new facilities to better serve the increasing number of women and families who are choosing our network for their comprehensive health needs.  This beautiful new NICU is yet another example of that commitment.” 

West Penn’s new 23-bed NICU is the first phase of an expansion and renovation of the program that will continue over the next year.  When complete in 2020, the NICU will accommodate 63 babies and their families. 

The unit employs 10 neonatologist physicians and more than 100 nurses, along with a team of nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, social workers, a neonatology development specialist, pharmacists, lactation consultants, dietitians, support staff and volunteers. 

“Anyone who has had a child in the West Penn NICU can tell you that nurses are the heart and soul of a remarkable team,” said Claire Zangerle, DNP, MSN, MBA, RN, AHN’s Chief Nurse Executive. “West Penn’s Magnet-designated nurses have played vital roles in the design, operation and growth of the NICU since its inception, and we are excited to open a facility worthy of the excellence in care and compassion they bring to our patients every day.” 

Among the new unit’s many innovative capabilities is a pager-free notification system that allows nurses to get instantaneous notifications of changes in patients’ conditions through smartphones. Other features of the new unit include rooms with windows that allow for more natural light, advanced ventilation and hydration systems, breast milk warmers and storage systems, and an Austin’s playroom for patients’ young siblings.

“Our program combines exceptional skill with great compassion and empathy for patients and their families,” said Sanjay Mitra, MD, medical director of the West Penn NICU. “This new facility reflects that philosophy of care. The soothing colors, natural light and spacious rooms create an open and calming atmosphere where NICU families can share their experiences, while being surrounded by today’s most advanced technological capabilities.” 

About the Allegheny Health Network:

Allegheny Health Network (AHN.ORG), a Highmark Health company, is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the Western Pennsylvania region.  The Network is comprised of eight hospitals, including its flagship academic medical center Allegheny General Hospital, Allegheny Valley Hospital, Canonsburg Hospital, Forbes Hospital, Jefferson Hospital, Saint Vincent Hospital, Westfield Memorial Hospital and West Penn Hospital; an employed physician organization, a research institute, health + wellness pavilions, home and community-based health services and a group purchasing organization. The Network employs approximately 19,000 people, and has more than 2,400 physicians on its medical staff. The Network also serves as a clinical campus for Temple University School of Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.