CARMICHAEL (CBS13) — Families with babies born prematurely will have more options when it comes to care, thanks to an expansion at a Sacramento County hospital.

Dr. Carolyn Getman is a neonatologist working in the new $35 million neonatal intensive care unit at Mercy San Juan Hospital.

“In our current NICU, we are in 1,200 square feet. This is over 17,000 square feet and it’s something we really really needed,” she said.

The rooms are large enough for all the equipment needed to care for preemies and multiple births, some who are born as early as 23 weeks and weighing less than a pound.

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“We really are big proponents of family-centered care. We know how important it is for babies to have their parents here,” said Getman.

The NICU can accommodate 40 infants in 16 private rooms with three-bed pods. Families can stay around the clock, providing much-needed mother’s milk or and something called kangaroo care.

“Even when babies are critically ill, we take the babies out and put them up against the mother or father’s chest and that is very helpful in getting babies to recover faster,” said Getman.

Tim Purkis is glad more families will have access to the care his family received there.

“Sometimes it feels like it was yesterday,” said Purkis.

In 2006, his wife gave birth to twins boys at 30 weeks via emergency cesarean.

“She was leaking some amniotic fluid. It was the right thing to do. It was the only thing to do,” he said.

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His boys were there for six and 10 weeks. He knows the care they received helped them recover and grow into the healthy teens they are today.

“It’s a home away from home that’s state of the art, that goes beyond the doctors and nurses,” he said.

Purkis is glad to know the new NICU will serve up to 400 families a year.

The facility is expected to open in late October.