Construction on the first major extension of Noble’s Hospital since it opened in 2003 reached a milestone.
The £4 million new neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for vulnerable babies was ‘topped out’ by Health and Social Care Minister Howard Quayle.
He was on site on Monday to put in one of the roof slates marking a significant phase of the construction work, which is on time and budget.
With the building shortly to be made water tight, work will continue on the internal build and the fitting-out over the next few months.
It is due to be completed in February 2015,
Mr Quayle said: ‘I am delighted to be here today to help mark this major milestone in the building work.
‘The new unit will offer the very highest standards of care for critically ill babies, conforming to the latest best practice and the latest European and British perinatal medicine standards.
‘The result of this work will be a state of the art neonatal unit of which the island can rightly be proud.’
The Minister added: ‘I would like to extend my thanks to everyone involved in the project for getting us to this stage and for doing so on time and on budget.’
Following approval for funding in Tynwald, building work on the NICU started in October last year.
The extension adjoins Jane Crookall Maternity Unit on the east side of the hospital complex, and there will be a direct link to the existing delivery suite.
The current capacity of nine cots will remain – but there will be extra space between them to reduce the risk of cross-infection between babies.
It also allows more privacy.
The unit’s upgrade was vital for the Isle of Man’s health service to continue offering neonatal care, after regulations changed shortly after the hospital opened.
Regulations stipulate that there must be a minimum of one and a half metres between cots.
A new feature will be overnight accommodation for parents.
And there will be a resuscitation room with one cot which will enable staff to stabilise sick children before they are transferred to the UK in privacy.
The unit will also include a seminar room as well as additional room for the storage of vital equipment.
Dr Prakash Thiagarajan, consultant paediatrician and neonatologist at Noble’s Hospital said: ‘This is a significant investment for the future which everyone at Noble’s Hospital is very grateful for.
‘It will allow us to offer the very best care and state of the art services for seriously ill new-born babies in those crucial first hours and days of life.
‘Being able to provide the best start for babies born on the island in the best possible environment is something we are really looking forward to.’
Noble’s Hospital can care for babies born after 27 weeks’ gestation.
Care for babies under 26 weeks and specialised procedures such as cardiac surgery comes from the UK.