SANTA BARBARA — Since 1987, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Cottage Hospital has helped more than 8,000 little newborns reach adulthood. On Thursday, the NICU celebrated 25 years. The original intensive care unit for infants had eight beds but quickly outgrew the space. Now it has enough room for 22 children. The first baby to be admitted in the Santa Barbara NICU shares her birthday with the unit and her mom was there to help celebrate. “First of 8,000. I told her she should have gone out and bought a lottery ticket that day. She’s a very lucky child,” said Stephanie Ralston with a laugh. “We’ve had so many children who’ve gone home and grown up and come back and end up, one I remember very well becomes the homecoming queen,” said Dr. Steven Barkley, NICU Medical Director. Elena Arroyo and Jorge Hoyos are the proud parents of three day old Sofia who is currently in the NICU. They are glad to have specialized care for their newborn so close to home. Cottage Children’s Hospital has the only level three NICU between Santa Barbara and the San Francisco bay area.
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