In addition to returning Providence St. Patrick Hospital to the maternity business three years ago, the new Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is now treating its first tiny patient.

Joyce Dombrouski, Chief Executive for Providence Western Montana said on Wednesday that the new unit is a natural extension of the Family Maternity Center.

“We’ve done this move, physician led and directed working with our OB partners, and now we have a new neonatologist who joined us in November, and that really allows us to offer this level of care for our babies,” said Dombrouski. “We were patient. We said when we opened this department in 2015 that we wanted to move in this direction, but we would only do it after we had learned, relearned, and taken time to train our staff.”

Dombrouski said the choice of a neonatologist was key in opening the new unit.

“The neonatologist is essential, and by the time we found Dr. Reed-Thurston in terms of her fit and her desire to be here, that’s what launched us even further in November in terms of making this happen now,” she said. “We have a baby in the unit right now, which makes good clinical sense, but we also wanted to celebrate this moment with the community, so that’s why we’re doing a harden launch on March 11.”

A Level II NICU keeps infants that are born prematurely at 32 weeks and up. Level II NICUs can provide care to these infants who are moderately ill with problems that are expected to resolve quickly.