Saint Barnabas Medical Center unveils new family wing

Stephanie Crane was born at 29 weeks weighing in at two pounds and 15 ounces.

Her father, Dr. Stephen Crane, says she spent six weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Saint Barnabas Medical Center back in 1995. At the time, there was no place for families to stay over.

“It was a very difficult time. My wife cried herself to sleep every night. I was a working obstetrician and I spent a lot of hours with her because I was here and I’d be sitting in a chair next to her crib at 3 o’clock in the morning because I would have somebody in labor,” said Crane.

The new Cooperman Family Pavilion at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, a Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas health facility, also an underwriter of NJTV News, was unveiled Thursday night. It will allow parents to have the opportunity to stay with their child almost 24/7.

It was created so that families like the Crane’s can have a different experience.

“To be able to spend so much more time with her would have been great,” said Patti Crane, Stephen’s wife.

The facility “houses” 56 Neonatal Intensive Care Units, five times the old capacity, as well as 114 private rooms.

“There will be medical and surgical floors, our pre-admission testing will be done in here,” Dr. Crane said.

The $200 million project now makes it a majority private room hospital. Officials say they’re going from 20 percent private rooms to 85 percent. The Cooperman family, who the building is named after, kick-started construction with their $25 million donation.

“I feel blessed because I really have lived the American dream. I’m the son of a plumber, who practiced his trade in the South Bronx, came to America when he was 13. I’m the first generation American born in my family, as well as the first to get a college degree. Toby and I feel it is our moral imperative to give others the opportunity to pursue the American dream by sharing our financial success,” said Leon Cooperman.

Chief Nursing Officer Jennifer O’Neill gave NJTV News a tour inside the new facility.

“We have flooring that is specialized in noise reduction. You see I have heels on and you can’t hear me walk because what we want to do is minimize the stimulation to the neonate. What we found through research is noise, touch, when they’re micro-preemies can increase risk of bleed to the brain so the noise is important,” said O’Neill.

The rooms on the various floors also feature new technology and stations.

“They’re outside every other room,” she continued.

Now, she says the nurse can sit and have eyes on both patients at all times.  During the NJTV News tour, our crew spotted the Crane family. Stephanie indicated she is now pre-med and wants to be a doctor.

“I have this tiny little hat, it fits in the palm of my hand and I still have it. I think it’s in my room somewhere,” said Stephanie. “Medicine has come a long way since then, but back then that was still amazing for me to be born and healthy and here today.”

“She put me through a lot, back then and to this day, but it was all worth it. She’s a great kid and she has such good care here,” said Patti.

Now the mother and daughter are able to share a drink, smile at the camera and together explore a place that will create more moments like this one.

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