MARTINSBURG, W.VA. – University Healthcare Berkeley Medical Center hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony and public open house today for the new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

(left to right) Steve Kurpiewski, VEBH Architects; Suzanne Shipley, PhD, University Healthcare Board of Directors; William Wear, MD, Pediatrician, Berkeley Medical Center Medical Staff President; Mark Polak, MD, Neonatologist, WVU Children’s Hospital; Avinash Purohit, MD, Neonatologist, NICU Medical Director; Anthony Zelenka, Berkeley Medical Center President/COO ; Melanie Riley, RN, Director Maternal and Child Care Services; Traci Daugherty, RN, NICU Clinical Coordinator; George Karos, Mayor of Martinsburg; Tracey Eberling, Martinsburg Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce; Gary Spoales, Bernie Hutzler Golf Classic Co-Chairman; and Frank Sabado, MD, Tennis Classic Chairman.

The new NICU is located on the 8th floor, south wing of the hospital. This service addition means improved access to neonatal intensive care for babies and mothers in the Eastern Panhandle with high risk pregnancies.

According to Berkeley Medical Center President and Chief Operating Officer Anthony P. Zelenka, the unit is slated to open to patients next week. Neonatal specialists have been recruited to staff the unit along with support via telemedicine from other pediatric specialists at WVU Children’s Hospital in Morgantown.

Officials on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony included Suzanne Shipley, PhD, representing the University Healthcare Board of Directors; William Wear, MD, pediatrician and president of the BMC medical staff; Avinash Purohit, MD, neonatologist and NICU medical director; and Mark Polak, neonatologist with the WVU Children’s Hospital.

“Our new NICU is allowing us to provide care for babies born with low birth weight, prematurity and those recovering from more serious conditions,” stated Zelenka. “Prior to establishing this service at Berkeley Medical Center, these NICU babies were being transferred out of state or to Morgantown on a regular basis,” he added.

Zelenka expects the number of births at Berkeley Medical Center to rise now that the specialty unit is ready to open and several new obstetricians/gynecologists have been recruited to the area. For the past several years the number of births at Berkeley Medical Center has averaged between 950 and 1000. He predicts the number to reach 1200 once the NICU is fully operational.