Press Releases & Announcements

What You May Not Expect When You’re Expecting - A Premature Baby

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - Danbury, CT

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Danbury Hospital

Most parents awaiting a newborn have some bit of worry only to find that the pregnancy and birth go well and a happy, healthy baby is born. This is most often the case. Occasionally, though, a mother may not be able to carry the baby to full gestation at 40 weeks, and the baby is born prematurely. Danbury Hospital is well equipped to deal with these special deliveries and even more so now that the new Spratt Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is open and fully operational.

One Newtown mother, Summer Paulos, knows first-hand the benefit of having a world-class neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) close to home. Paulos, the mother of three youngsters all born prematurely, now aged 2 ½-6 years old, never imagined that her pregnancies would lead to a premature birth. Yet, with each consecutive baby, the gestation period was shorter and the needs of each baby required more intensive care.

Preemies Times Three

The Paulos’ first child, a daughter, was born during week 36 and spent a week in the NICU. Her second child, a son, was born at 29 weeks and spent seven weeks in the NICU. Her most recent child, another son, was born at 28 weeks and spent eight weeks in the NICU. Today, Mrs. Paulos is happy to report all three children are growing according to plan. “I can’t put into words how grateful I am to the physicians and staff Danbury Hospital and hope the community recognizes how fortunate we are to have a facility of this caliber here in our backyard. It was amazing to see such a warm welcoming environment in the new NICU with all the latest technology too,” said Mrs. Paulos.

The Ups, Downs and Blessings That Come With a Premature Baby

Having a premature baby comes with many ups and downs, but Summer and her husband Peter found the care she received at Danbury Hospital to be supportive and helpful. “It’s hard to put into words how challenging having a “preemie” is. You simply want your child to live. The care we received from the entire team was excellent and communication through the challenges and progress was so helpful in setting expectations for what we would be going through. Knowing what to expect in itself and having such committed caregivers was so comforting during our most difficult moments.”

About the Family Birth Center Care Team

Paulos’ obstetrician, Dr. Patricia Whitcombe, said, “It is so important that a pregnant patient and her family don't have to travel long distances at such a critical time. The care can be provided in the community where her prenatal care has been provided by physicians she has come to know and trust, rather than at a tertiary care facility. The patient can rely on the comprehensive care that her team of providers gives. The obstetrician, perinatologist, neonatology team, nursing and ancillary staff jointly ensure that the patient and her newborn get the quality care that they need and expect," said Dr. Whitcombe.

“Our entire staff literally cradles the mom, baby and family from pre-birth to discharge. All the sub-specialties are in place at Danbury Hospital and the patients benefit from the shared values and commitment to the highest level of care from the team,” said Dr. Edward James, Chief of Neonatology at Danbury Hospital.

New Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Danbury Hospital

The Paulos’s had access to all the mother-baby services they needed close to home through Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN), a new healthcare delivery system that combines the resources and expertise of both New Milford Hospital and Danbury Hospital. The affiliation comes just as Danbury Hospital has strengthened its mother-baby care services by opening a new, state-of-the-art NICU with private rooms for newborns and their families.

As the region’s only Level IIIb NICU, Danbury Hospital treats critically ill infants and premature babies born as early as 23 weeks. The NICU admits close to 400 patients a year, including approximately 11 percent of all babies born at Danbury Hospital, plus newborns transferred from New Milford Hospital and other centers. “The latest technology is in place to ensure the NICU is the safest, most advanced place to care for babies,” added Dr. James. The modern NICU is equipped with the latest technology, including 10 Giraffe OmniBeds, which provides the optimal microenvironment to help babies thrive during the first critical days and weeks of life. Services include high frequency oscillatory ventilation, nitric oxide therapy, surfactant therapy and percutaneous central venous line placement. Multiple systems are in place to alert staff of a baby’s changing health status. Nine decentralized nursing stations enable staff to stay close to newborns and monitor their progress from multiple sites in the unit. The attending neonatologists (high risk newborn doctors) are now in the hospital 24/7, which provides reassurance to families that if something unexpected occurs, a provider with the highest level of expertise is immediately available.

The Critical First Months

The first month of birth is critical to a long, healthy life. The recent United Nations research and its goal of dramatically reducing childhood mortality by 2015 has highlighted the need for early and thorough pre and post-term care. There has been widespread improvement in childhood mortality since 1990 and the study authors state clearly maternal health is playing a role.

To learn more about Danbury Hospital’s Family Birth Center and Spratt Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, visit or call 800-511-9971.

About Western Connecticut Health Network

Western Connecticut Health Network is a patient-centered health care organization established in 2010 by two nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and their affiliated organizations, to provide the highest level of care to patients throughout Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. In addition to the two hospitals, other network affiliates include:

  • An integrated physician practice with primary and specialty care expertise
  • An agency for home care and community health services
  • A full-service retail pharmacy located at Danbury Hospital
  • Emergency medical services
  • An occupational wellness and medicine program, providing services for business and industry

Western Connecticut Health Network has centers of excellence in Women’s, neonatal, cardiovascular and cancer services; weight loss and orthopedic surgery; digestive disorders and radiology and diagnostic imaging. It also offers specialized programs for sleep disorders and asthma management.  Both hospitals also maintain active clinical research programs, offering clinical trials for patients with cancer and other health concerns.

For more information, visit

About Danbury Hospital

Danbury Hospital is a 371-bed regional medical center and university teaching hospital associated with the University of Vermont College of Medicine, the Yale University School of Medicine, the Connecticut School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center.  The hospital is nationally recognized as a tertiary health care center with an innovative high-tech, high-touch environment and is also a member of the Planetree organization. In addition to offering the latest robotic and minimally invasive surgical and imaging technology, it was the first hospital in Connecticut to adopt electronic health records systems. It offers a Level II Trauma Center and Level IIIb Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Medical staff members are board-certified in their specialties, and most serve as faculty members of the nation’s finest university medical centers offering a higher level of experience. 

For more information, visit and share your comments with us at