FAMILY FOCUS: Wolfson Children’s Hospital receiving MRI machine for newborns and premature babies

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Wolfson Children’s Hospital is getting a high-tech tool to help doctors care for critically ill newborns, and it took a crane to help bring that heavy equipment in.

Construction crews in front of Wolfson Children’s Hospital’s new Critical Care Tower hauled a heavy slab of electronics and a six-ton magnet that will be part of an MRI machine for the Newborn Intensive Care Unit on the fourth floor.

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“It’s not just a little lift — it’s a big lift!” said Michael Aubin, president of Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

It’s a large haul for the tiniest of patients.

“Some of these babies are this big,” he said, as he held out the palms of his hands to face one another. “I mean, they’re very tiny, so their head is smaller than my fist.”

That six-ton magnet will eventually become a new machine called the Embrace Neonatal MRI System, which is designed specifically for newborn babies, including premature babies.

“They’re so delicate,” Aubin described. “Often, the ability to scan them is just not possible.”

However, this new machine will provide babies with a warm and quiet environment on the inside.

On the outside, a full-color video display will help parents and clinicians keep an eye on the newborns.

The magnet will be completely protected, meaning that parents can stay close by during scans.

This technology will also help clinicians find neurological conditions in babies early, so they can be treated right away.

“A lot of (NICU patients) have neurological conditions that need to be identified, and if you can identify them early,” Aubin pointed out, “(If) you detect that they’re existing before you start treatment, you take a different approach.”

Wolfson Children’s is the first hospital in Florida to have this machine.

The fourth floor will house the highest-level NICU, and above and below there will be two additional floors with newborn intensive care units.

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Those three floors will open in January of 2020, and the whole Critical Care tower will open next fall.

The hospital is raising $60 million to pay for the costs of this new technology.

To learn more about its fundraising campaign, click here.