LewisGale Medical Center is continuing its fight to open a neonatal intensive care unit to care for its tiniest patients.
In an appeal filed in Salem Circuit Court, the hospital has asked the court to throw out the September decision by Virginia Health Commissioner Karen Remley denying LewisGale’s request for an eight-bassinet NICU.
The petition asks that the court tell Remley to issue a new decision on the NICU that is consistent with her prior decisions in similar cases and better follows the law governing the state’s regulation of new health care services.
LewisGale began the pursuit of a NICU in 2010 and was opposed by Carilion Clinic, which operates a 60-bed NICU at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
LewisGale’s initial application said it would cost $3.4 million to bring the services to the Salem hospital, which is the flagship for the four HCA-owned hospitals in Southwest Virginia.
The quest for the NICU is part of a larger LewisGale effort to expand its maternity services and comes as LewisGale has recruited several new physicians specializing in obstetrics and completed in August a $2.5 million renovation of its maternity wing.
As LewisGale has focused on maternity services, the hospital saw its deliveries grow 57 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to the petition filed in court Nov. 14. The trend, LewisGale said, is projected to continue in the coming years, with the number of deliveries projected to top 1,000 by 2013, up from 497 in 2009.