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Pediatric Hospital Foundation reopens NICU South after $400K upgrade

The Pediatric Hospital Foundation reopened the Neonatal Intensive Unit South Ward of the Antonio Ortiz University Pediatric Hospital at the Río Piedras Medical Center, whose roof suffered damage in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017, which damaged the interior of the critical care unit for infants and neonates.

Thanks to private donors, the repair and waterproofing of the roof of Tower 1, building B, where NICU South is located, was carried out to prevent leaks and recondition the inside of the unit at a cost of $400,000, said Foundation Director Rebeca Quiñones.

“We’re proud to share results and know that we’re helping the only pediatric hospital in Puerto Rico where the most complicated cases are referred and the most complete services are provided to children and youth,” said Quiñones.

This project carried out between January and November 2018 allowed replacing damaged internal elements such as acoustic panels, gypsum board panels, adjust and seal all windows to prevent leaks, make improvements to the breastfeeding area and paint the unit’s ceiling, walls and columns.

Waterproofing material was installed on 6th floor’s roof, getting rid of pipe and electrical equipment in disuse. New insulation was installed in pipelines on the machine room, located on that roof.

In the mechanical medical gas room — where the oxygen pivots are located — the walls that showed filtration were sealed, the floors were worked on, and new medical gas conduits were installed on the walls to the outside.

Foundation Board Vice-Chair Manuel Iglesias stressed the organization’s importance in the search for solutions and in the training of future doctors in Puerto Rico.

“After Hurricane María, we focused on impacting the hospital’s largest areas that had greater needs,” he said, adding that the hospital serves as a training facility for pediatric medical students at the UPR’s Medical Sciences Campus and that the NICU South unit remains the largest in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean with up to 50 beds.

Quiñones calls on potential donors 
”I want you to look at our Foundation as managers to channel and make possible major improvements to the Pediatric Hospital, a project we all want,” he said.

“This year we have a goal of raising funds to recondition the renal unit, unique in Puerto Rico, and the general pediatrics bathrooms and the surgery area in Tower 1,” he said.

Another project the Foundation is moving forward on is building an operating room for minimally invasive procedures, with a $1.6 million donation from Direct Relief. The initiative is in the design stage and Quiñones said the expectation is to have it completed by the end of 2020.

“We dream of continuing to promote this Pediatric Hospital with innovative projects and that more people can join the mission of working for children and young people who need it most,” said Quiñones.

The donors who made the roof repair and refurbishment of the interior area of ​​NICU South possible are Francisco Carvajal Foundation, Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico at the Boston Foundation, Bechara Foundation, Unidos for Puerto Rico and the Gnocchi-Hernández family, who invested in equipment and furniture for the unit’s nursing room.

From July 2018 to May 2019, the Pediatric Hospital registered 3,360 admissions and performed 700 outpatient surgeries, mostly through external clinics.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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