The Ottawa Hospital unveiled its new special care nursery today aimed at helping the region's tiniest patients.

The Special Care Nursery at the Civic campus will help those babies who aren't sick enough to be in the neonatal intensive care unit but aren't well enough to go home.

Little baby Nash is just 9 days old but born a good 10 weeks too early.  He nestles against his mother’s bare chest, drawing in her warmth and strength.

“I went into labor at 30 weeks,” says Nash’s mother Amanda Decoste, “I had to get airlifted by helicopter from Cornwall to hospital here.”

From the chaos of that to the calm of this; the Ottawa Hospital's new Special Care Nursery for babies just like Nash.

“This space is amazing,” says Decoste, “We feel so fortunate we can come here and spend as much time with Nash as we want.”

This nursery at the Civic campus is for premature babies who aren't strong enough to go home yet but not sick enough to need the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, at the General site.   It's a quiet, calm environment.

Robyn Pitson is a registered nurse who has seen a lot of changes in the maternity ward since she started there 1989.  These changes, she says, are wonderful for both the families and the staff.

“The babies and families have more privacy and more time to be families,” she says, “instead of being in a big bustling place.”

The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic campus is about to be rebuilt, with construction to start probably within the next ten years.  These renovations at the Special Care Nursery cost about $7 million dollars.  Waiting to renovate the nursery under the new build wasn’t even an option, according to Dr. Pradeep Merchant, the site chief, Division of Neonatology at the Ottawa Hospital, and the Director of the Special Care Nursery, “because these babies need special care right now,” he says, including the quiet, dim surroundings in which the nursery is house.

‘When you have that,” says Dr. Merchant, “the research shows that it allows them to recuperate better from their neonatal  illnesses and allows the length of stay to reduce because they do better and they can go home.”

The nursery features twin rooms so twins aren't separated and single rooms for babies more at risk like those going through narcotic withdrawal, born to mothers addicted to drugs.

“When that happens they are irritable,” says Dr. Merchant, “They can't handle light and noise and so having these rooms and the light being low and the sound low, allows us to provide the kind of care these young babies require.”

It's clearly what the anxious parents of these preemies need too.  This will become the model for the renovated neonatal ICU at the General that will provide single rooms for all those high risk preemies.  Fundraising for that renovation is currently underway, with donations of $4 million dollars on a goal of $5 million.