UT Health Tyler’s new NICU helps keep medical care local

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 5:53 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2022 at 5:58 PM CST

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A Tyler hospital is bringing attention to National Prematurity Awareness Month with its new neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) built earlier this year.

KLTV 7′s Willie Downs spoke with nurses at UT Health about how the NICU is impacting families here in East Texas.

“It’s really impacted our patients by keeping them local, providing a new service line to keep our babies here with mom at the same hospital and in their community,” said NICU Director Marcie Tunstall.

Previously, any baby born before 36 weeks had to be transported to Dallas for intensive care, but now they can stay right here in East Texas.

“So, it’s been a great day today for all of the people here in this hospital, and Tyler, Texas because once again, this is the capital - the medical capital of East Texas,” said Tyler District 3 Councilwoman, Shirley McKellar.

On Tuesday, UT Health Tyler held a luncheon -- Burgers and Babies -- where 500 hamburgers were served to hospital staff to raise awareness during National Prematurity Awareness Month. The lunch was provided by Millennium Neonatology and Tyler District 3 Councilwoman Shirley McKellar.

“We’re so excited to be able to offer care to the smallest neonates that we’ve never been able to here at UT Tyler,” said Yancey.

Yancey said it’s been well-received by parents.

“Parents are so glad to not have to travel all the way to Dallas so they’re so excited to be able to come here and just stay around their family and friends,” said Tunstall.

Tunstall said the NICU has treated more than 100 infants since opening in January, which is ahead of projections. She said their nine-bed NICU allows them to receive babies from UT Health in Athens, Jacksonville, and Henderson.

“We’re able to go get their sick babies to bring them here to the NICU to keep them here in East Texas,” said Tunstall.