Riley Hospital for Children is about to begin work on a $142 million project to renovate four floors of its downtown hospital into a new, centralized maternity and newborn health unit.
Hospital officials said Friday morning they have received approval from the board of parent Indiana University Health to move ahead with the project, which was originally announced in 2015. The project is set be completed by 2020.
Four floors at the hospital will be renovated to house inpatient services, including a labor and delivery unit, a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit and a postpartum unit.
The project will centralize all maternity and neonatal care offered at IU Health's three downtown campuses. Currently, many of the services are offered at the system's Methodist Hospital, where more than 3,000 babies a year are born.
The move is part of IU Health’s way to address the state’s high infant mortality rate and keep all newborn services under one roof. Seven children out of every 1,000 born in Indiana do not live to see their first birthday. They die of injuries, birth defects, sudden infant death syndrome and maternal complications.
That makes the Indiana the 10th highest state in the nation for infant mortality, and first among all northern states.
Currently, Riley offers newborn intensive care for sick infants, but is not a maternity hospital. On the fourth floor, more than 60 private rooms are dedicated to tending to newborns who were born prematurely or in distress at other hospitals.
The existing Level 4 newborn intensive care unit at Riley will stay in place.
The project also will relocate the existing outpatient maternal fetal medicine clinics from both Methodist Hospital and University Hospital to the Riley campus.