Holston Valley Unveils Next Generation Campaign To Raise $2.5 Million To Increase NICU's Services

For nearly 30 years, Holston Valley Medical Center's neonatal intensive care unit has empowered more than 9,000 newborns to not only survive but thrive into childhood and adulthood.

Now, the hospital is embarking on a $2.5 million project to enhance the quality of care these babies receive. At a news conference Wednesday, April 23, Holston Valley and Wellmont Foundation leaders unveiled the Next Generation fundraising campaign, which will add valuable services and provide more space and comfort for patients and families.

As part of this project, the NICU will be relocated to the hospital's third floor.

"We have provided a neonatal intensive care unit since 1986 and are proud of our track record of success with these babies, who can come to us in the most fragile of conditions," said Tim Attebery, Holston Valley's president. "It's a key part of our comprehensive and innovative women's and children's program.

"As we enter our second generation in the NICU, we are committed to provide patients, their families and our medical professionals with the facilities and space they need. This campaign will enable us to continue producing desired outcomes for our patients and reinforce that the highest-quality NICU care is available at Kingsport's flagship hospital."

Important advancements Holston Valley will achieve through this initiative include:

  • Doubling the amount of room for each newborn, which gives parents more space to interact with their child
  • Building a specialized procedures room for patients who need invasive treatments
  • Opening a private step-down room for parents to spend the night with their child as they prepare to go home
  • Creating a dedicated isolation room, which will have negative air pressure and specialized filtration
  • Expanding the nurse's station

"We are excited to find new ways to care for some of our most vulnerable children so they can heal and move forward in their development," said Todd Norris, Wellmont's senior vice president of system advancement and president of Wellmont Foundation.

"Our friends and neighbors in the region have consistently backed our NICU program, and we are grateful for their investment in our area's quality of life. By participating in our Next Generation campaign, they will continue to advance the caliber of care for promising young lives."

Construction on the new NICU is expected to start in early 2015.

Holston Valley's tradition of expert NICU care is the product of a partnership between experienced neonatologists and nurses and the community. This unit has benefited considerably from donations to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, a national charity that has pumped millions of dollars into children's care at Wellmont Health System hospitals.

Wellmont has been the regional affiliate of Children's Miracle Network since 1987, and all money raised in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia stays here to benefit children's health. Wellmont uses proceeds to purchase equipment for the NICU and its pediatric and emergency departments and fund community partnerships that advance children's health.

Forward-thinking companies such as Walmart, IHOP and Dairy Queen have donated valuable resources to support Children's Miracle Network. Walmart will soon begin its annual campaign to support Children's Miracle Network and will help spread the word about the NICU project.

One person who knows firsthand about the value of Holston Valley's NICU is Bekah Crawford, a 26-year-old Kingsport resident who spent six weeks there in 1987 after she was born at 29 weeks gestation. She was joined by her twin sister, Amanda, who was there for five weeks.

Entering the unit weighing just 3 pounds, these girls had intestinal problems and their lungs were not fully developed. But they eventually recovered through the superior care of their physicians and nurses and are now mothers.

A year ago, Crawford gave birth at Holston Valley to her first child, Bennett, who was at nearly 39 weeks gestation. His temperature was 102.7, and he was experiencing difficulty breathing, so he was transferred to the NICU. During his stay, he underwent a spinal tap, had abnormal liver enzymes and was placed on four antibiotics to fight an infection. Fortunately, his health improved and he was able to go home.

"My son is now almost a year old and thriving," Crawford said. "He is getting into everything, says a few words already and loves to play and read. He is a joy to his father and me. My husband and I are both eternally grateful for this NICU facility, the doctors, the nurses and the funding that goes into it all.

"If it was not for the NICU and these skilled medical providers, I would not be here today. My son would not be here today. We are pleased to have such a fantastic NICU so close to home."

The neonatologist who fought for Crawford as a child and as a mother was Dr. Sharon Lail. Other neonatologists who have joined the Holston Valley NICU team and deliver exemplary care are Drs. P.J. Powers and Christopher Martin. These medical doctors, who practice as part of Pediatrix Medical Group, are joined by other clinicians who earn great praise from Crawford for their attention to detail and loving approach.

 "Wellmont and Children's Miracle Network have been wonderful to provide us with a special environment to transform newborns' lives," Dr. Powers said. "But as our NICU program has grown, so has our need for the most up-to-date facilities that will continue to position Holston Valley at the forefront of this care. Donors have a powerful opportunity to leave a footprint on the future of our NICU, and we encourage them to support the next generation."

Anyone who is interested in supporting the campaign or receiving more information can visit www.wellmont.org/nextgen or contact Wellmont Foundation at 423-230-8550.