About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Report endorses Stafford’s plan

Nurse Donna Lack poses in the nursery at Stafford Hospital.

Stafford Hospital’s proposal to expand its nursery got an endorsement this week from the state Health Department.

A staff report says that the expansion would result in fewer transfers of mothers and babies and could be accomplished at a modest cost. The report was published Tuesday by the Division of Certificate of Public Need and recommends approval of the project.

“Having intermediate-level neonatal special care at Stafford Hospital would eliminate about two-thirds of the expensive and undesirable transports of mothers and newborns from Stafford to Mary Washington,” the report says.

Stafford Hospital has asked the state for a “certificate of public need” to add six special-care bassinets. The project would cost about $335,000 in renovations to the existing nursery. It would require no additional staff, according to the hospital’s application.

Stafford operates a general–level nursery of four bassinets. Since its opening in February 2009, the hospital has hosted 338 births, or less than one per day. Currently the smallest and youngest of these babies are transferred to a more advanced nursery, such as the one at Mary Washington Hospital. The expansion would allow some of these babies to remain at Stafford, especially those who had completed 32 weeks gestation and weighed at least 1,500 grams.

Dr. Karen Remley, state health commissioner, will have the final say on the project. Her decision could come next month.

(For more about Stafford’s project and the state report, see the story in tomorrow’s paper.)