The state has denied LewisGale Medical Center’s request to open a neonatal intensive care unit, saying that there is not a public need for more specialty care for babies in Southwest Virginia.
LewisGale plans to appeal the decision, said CEO Victor Giovanetti.
“Clearly, I respect the commissioner and her authority, but we are very disappointed and quite frankly I’m puzzled by it,” Giovanetti said. “We believed we proved beyond a doubt that this was in the best interest of the patients, babies, and it was in line with meeting the expectation of the parents and the physicians.”
In a letter dated Monday, state Health Commissioner Karen Remley said that adding NICU services at LewisGale would unnecessarily duplicate services already available. She said that not only was it not needed, but that approving a LewisGale NICU would also harm the quality of existing services.
“I am mindful of the community support for the project proposed in the application,” Remley wrote. “But I am also keenly aware of the effect proliferation of resources can have on neonatal services,which depend on sufficient volume in order to maintain clinical proficiency and overall quality of care. Special care nursery services, involving vulnerable and frail patients, should not be allowed to be duplicated when evidence strongly shows that sufficient volume would not exist to support proficiency and quality in neonatal care delivery.”
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What do you think? Should LewisGale be able to have a NICU or did the state get it right?