Arizona hospital expands neonatal unit for preterm babies


Hannah Saunders


Abrazo Health is investing $14 million in expanding the hospital’s neonatal unit for preterm babies at the Arrowhead Campus. Over 3,000 babies, including high order multiple births such as triplets, are born annually at the Abrazo Arrowhead Campus.

The 8,500 square-foot addition will be built adjacent to Arrowhead’s existing Level IIIA perinatal center, and will increase the neonatal unit from 21 to 35 beds. The addition will also support enhanced capabilities to pursue certification as a high Level IIIB Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for more complex maternal and neonatal medical conditions, obstetric, and fetal complications. 

“With this strategic expansion, Abrazo Arrowhead will be able to serve more families and keep moms and babies together in their community,” said Dr. Amit Agrawal, medical director of neonatology.


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Construction is currently underway and the project is expected to be completed later this year. The existing nursery will be open and available during the construction phase. The expansion will allow for providers and caregivers to offer a greater level and care for babies of all gestational ages–after the new unit is certified by the state.

Common reasons for neonatal intensive care unit visits include health conditions that require specialized care, low birthweight, and preterm births. The CDC’s Arizona birth data shows the C-Section delivery rate was 28.4 per 100,000 in 2019. The preterm birth rate was 9.5 per 100,000 and the low birthweight rate was 7.4 per 100,000.

While Abrazo’s Arrowhead Campus is already certified to care for premature infants as young as 28 weeks gestation, the pursuit of the Level IIIB NICU certification means the hospital will be capable of providing complex care for babies of any gestational age, according to Chief Nursing Officer Julie Bowman.

“We are extremely proud of the high quality care our existing clinical staff and community OB/GYNs provide, as well as around-the-clock coverage with neonatal specialists, laborists and an OB emergency department,” Bowman said. “We are pleased to be adding more physician subspecialty coverage and capabilities to enhance the care we provide for expectant families.”