There’s a new addition coming soon to the Women’s Pavilion at Wooster Community Hospital.

Akron Children’s Hospital recently announced plans to open a special-care nursery at the Wayne County facility in September, pending approval from the Ohio Department of Health.

Under the agreement, Children’s will lease and operate the five-bed special-care nursery, said Lisa Aurilio, the pediatric hospital’s vice president of patient services and chief nursing officer. Children’s expects to hire about eight to 12 nurses to staff the unit.

The Level 2A nursery will care for premature babies and newborns with jaundice or eating, breathing or temperature regulation problems, said Loraine Frank-Lightfoot, director of patient services and chief nursing officer at Wooster Community Hospital.

Under state law, Level 2A nurseries can provide care to babies born as much as eight weeks premature and weighing at least 3 pounds, 5 ounces.

By adding the special-care nursery, Wooster Community Hospital will be able to offer maternity services to more high-risk expectant moms while keeping newborns closer to home, Frank-Lightfoot said.

The hospital transfers about 30 newborns per year to Children’s, she said. Wooster averages 1,100 deliveries annually.

“We’d like to make it more convenient for people to remain local,” Frank-Lightfoot said.

The hospitals are sharing the $600,000 cost to renovate and equip the current nursery to convert it into a special care nursery, Frank-Lightfoot said. A smaller nursery that has been occasionally used for overflow will be turned into the regular nursery for newborns who don’t require extra medical attention.

The expansion in Wooster is the pediatric hospital’s latest attempt to broaden its footprint.

Last week, Children’s also announced a deal to run the pediatric unit and special care nursery at St. Joseph Health Center in Warren starting later this year.

Children’s already entered a partnership last year with Wooster Community Hospital to oversee medical care for all young patients hospitalized there.

Pediatricians from Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics’ Wooster office treat pediatric inpatients, assist with high-risk deliveries and examine and care for newborns in the community hospital’s nursery.

In addition to its pediatric hospital in the Youngstown area, Children’s operates satellite inpatient pediatric units at Aultman Hospital in Canton, East Liverpool City Hospital, MedCentral Health System in Mansfield and Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna.

Children’s runs Level 3A neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) inside Akron General Medical Center, Summa Akron City Hospital and St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Youngstown. Level 3A NICUs are licensed to provide more intensive medical services, include ventilation.

“We feel we’re really an asset to the community,” Aurilio said. “We’re here to partner with whoever feels we can bring value with our pediatric services, in whatever communities.”

By running specialized nurseries inside hospitals that deliver babies, Children’s helps keep moms and newborns closer together, Aurilio said. The closer proximity can make it easier for new mothers to provide breast milk for their hospitalized newborns, improving their health.

“Even when mom is discharged, it’s not as much of a burden to the family to have to drive an hour to Akron,” she said.

The satellite locations also help Children’s grow its referral base for its specialized services on the main campus, Aurilio said.

“It helps us continue to expand our subspecialty services,” she said.

Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or cpowell@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/CherylPowellABJ.