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Penn State Health Children’s Hospital celebrates completion of expansion project

Penn State Health Children’s Hospital today celebrated a new era of patient- and family-centered care with the completion of a three-floor vertical expansion.

In 1970, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center welcomed its first patients. Beginning in the 1980s, the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center dedicated a floor specifically for the care of children. In 2009, Hershey Medical Center broke ground on the five-floor, 263,000-square-foot building that became the only free-standing children’s hospital in the region.

“Over the last 50 years, our pioneering leaders and highly skilled teams have continually enhanced the quality of pediatric care,” said Deborah Berini, president of Hershey Medical Center. “Today, we celebrate our tremendous growth and look forward to many more years of improving the health of our youngest patients and their families.”

The $148 million, 126,000-square-foot expansion, which began in spring 2018, added more pediatric beds for enhanced access to nationally-ranked care in central Pennsylvania. It features state-of-the-art technology, a new Women and Babies Center, a 56-bed Level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and the state’s only Small Baby Unit, created specifically for growth and improved brain development in premature babies.

“Our brand-new Women and Babies Center is the realization of our goal to have team-based therapy with our specialists providing every level of care our patients may need,” said Dr. Richard Legro, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hershey Medical Center. “From our midwives, who provide the most intimate, low-intervention delivery to our maternal and fetal medicine specialists who care for moms with pre-existing conditions or complications, we can serve the region’s every need.”

In addition to the Women and Babies Center, the Labor and Delivery Unit and the NICU, which were located in the adult portion of Hershey Medical Center, are now at home on the seventh and eighth floors of the expanded Children’s Hospital.

“The Labor and Delivery Unit and NICU are contiguous,” Legro said. “We considered every detail so that our moms and tiniest patients have the most comforting amenities to deliver, recover and grow, and that families can remain together.”

“This expansion provides a beautiful and expanded space where our physicians, nurses and staff can continue to offer the highest level of medical care to young patients close to home, right here in central Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Sarah Iriana, interim chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.

An illustrated book celebrating the expansion is now available for preorder. The Book, Becky and Kaia’s New Addition: A Tale of Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, features stories of real Children’s Hospital patients and takes a look at the expansion through the eyes of the facility dogs, Becky and Kaia. It will be published in March 2021.

The Children’s Hospital has been ranked among U.S. News and World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals for ten consecutive years.

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