ROSEDALE, Md. - The tiniest babies often need the biggest medical equipment to survive.
Preemies require a lot of space to grow and thrive, which is why MedStar Franklin Square hospital is raising money to expand its neonatal intensive care unit.
No one knows the importance of a NICU more than the Shelton family. Last year, Meredith Shelton had emergency surgery to deliver her daughter Evelyn, 10 weeks before her due date. A series of complications kept Evelyn in the NICU for 52 days. Even with her nursing background, Shelton felt helpless at times. She credits the doctors and nurses for giving her the encouragement to stay positive.
"it was just a little validation that you're doing all that you can, because the whole time your child is in the NICU you never feel like you're doing enough," Shelton said.
MedStar Franklin Square hospital cares for about 300 babies in its NICU every year. Dr. Sarah Harper, a neonatologist, says space constraints can be a challenge.
"Often the NICU is full and sometimes babies may have to be transported to another part of the hospital because there is not enough space for them here," Harper said.
The hospital is currently fundraising to build a brand new NICU facility. It would be able to accommodate 23 babies and give each baby his or her own room, with plenty of space and privacy.
"I think each family would have a lot less stressful of an experience in the NICU because they would have the room to be a family together without being out in the open in a big room."
The hospital is well on its way to hitting its goal of $4 million for the new NICU, but it still needs about $500,000 more to reach that goal. To help raise money, there is a fundraiser happening Sunday, August 17 at Conrad's Ruth Villa in Middle River. There will be live bands, food, a silent auction and a cornhole tournament.
For more information including where to buy tickets, click here .