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New state-of-the-art NICU at Children’s Hospital aims to get babies healthier, faster

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WAUWATOSA (WITI) -- Wisconsin's tiniest and most fragile babies now have a new and improved home. The new Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit at Children's Hospital is now open, and nurses moved the babies in on Tuesday November 18th, 2014.

Little Johnny Rayniak is the first baby to move into the new space.

He was born four weeks early, on September 30th, and weighed 4 lbs 9.9 oz. He struggled with complications that come with being a preemie, and had to have surgery.

"There was a checklist of concerns, and as the weeks have gone by, we have been able to check those off the list," said Johnny's dad, J.B. Rayniak.

Now that Johnny is in the new NICU, his parents are grateful they will be able to spend more time with him.

Each baby has a private room, instead of the old pod system.

"We can stay here, we can sleep here," said Rayniak.

The NICU will care for 70 babies at a time instead of 59, and is designed to maximize time with nurses.

"Single family rooms have been shown to improve lung development, decrease lung problems, and improve brain growth," said Dr. Mike Uhing, Medical Director of the NICU.

The new environment is also less stressful for the babies, who won't hear each other cry. The rooms  have a feature where the lights above the baby`s bed will change colors, they`ll  turn red if the room gets too loud.

Parents magazine ranked the NICU number one in the country, and is also made the cover of TIME Magazine's June 2nd issue.

Most babies inside it are born premature, and many suffer from life-threatening  conditions affecting their heart, kidneys or brain.

Johnny's parents say a positive attitude and a caring staff helped their little superhero get healthy.

"He`s just waiting, gaining a little bit more weight here, and then we should be on our way soon," said his mom Angie Rayniak.

The Rayniaks hope to have their son home, by Thanksgiving.

The NICU treats at least 700 babies a year and doctors expect to see even more because of the expansion. It will be completely finished and open by July 2016/ It was a $33.8 million dollar project and was funded in part, by community donations.