Ask Kristi and Jason Fine to define the rollercoaster emotions they experienced when their daughter was born prematurely and had to spend time in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). They’ll use words like “frightened” and “overwhelming.” But the couple is quick to liberally pepper the conversation with “gratitude,” “comfort” and “wonderful.”

The Fine’s second child, a girl named Charli, was born on October 24, 2009. She was born premature and transferred to Overland Park Regional Medical Center’s NICU for specialized respiratory care. Charli is now a healthy, active nine-month-old toddler and her parents are still filled with gratitude for the NICU experience they—and their little girl—had at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. In fact, Kristi is enrolling in nursing school this fall—to become a neonatal nurse.

To help provide the most comprehensive care available for premature and critically ill newborns in the region like Charli, Overland Park Regional Medical Center, part of HCA Midwest Health System, announces the opening of its expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The completion of the expansion project makes Overland Park Regional Medical Center’s NICU the largest in the metropolitan Kansas City area with 71 newborn suites.

The Level IIIb Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, offers critically ill and premature infants access to the expertise of neonatologists trained at some of the premier academic institutions in the country, advanced life-saving technology and clinical treatments, and the compassionate care of advanced nurse practitioners, nurses, respiratory therapists, and perinatal social workers.

Last year Overland Park Regional Medical Center Women’s Services department delivered more than 3,200 babies; 20 percent of those infants required specialized and intensive care in the NICU. The HCA Midwest Neonatal Transport Team, headquartered at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, provides transport services to premature or critically ill newborns within the metropolitan area and in the outlying communities throughout Kansas and Missouri. “Through the transport service we can extend this tertiary level of service to hospitals in communities outside the metropolitan area that deliver infants needing advanced levels of care,” says Rob Holcomb, MD, Medical Director of the HCA Midwest Neonatal Transport Team.

“As the incidence of prematurity continues to rise, Overland Park Regional Medical Center is equipped to respond to the needs of the most critically ill and premature infant,” says Kathleen Weatherstone, MD, Medical Director of Neonatal Intensive Care Services. “Our team of neonatologists using the most advanced life-saving technology and prescribing the most proven clinical treatments optimizes the outcome for each infant we treat.”