$13 million expansion to Winnie Palmer Hospital complete

New NICU is 1 of the largest worldwide

By Julie Broughton - Anchor

ORLANDO, Fla. - Winnie Palmer's neonatal intensive care unit opened on Tuesday, capping off a $13 million expansion.

The intensive care unit now encompasses more than 44,000 square feet, making it one of the largest units of its kind to be housed under one roof.

Golf legend Annika Sorenstam's son William spent 57 days at the NICU just after he was born 13-weeks early. He weighed just two pounds at birth.

"He is a miracle, and he is just an amazing little guy," Sorenstam said as she toured the new Haley Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. "It was a trying time, there's no doubt about it. You hear stories about families spending time in the NICU and but you never know it's going to be you one of these days."

Each penny of the $13 million used on the expansion came from philanthropic donations, and a portion of that money went to adding 30 new beds to the unit, bringing the total number of beds to 142.

Dr. Gregor Alexander works at the hospital, and recalled the first time he met Arnold Palmer and his wife Winnie.

"They walked through our neonatal unit and saw what we were doing and the limited space and saw the potential and said we can do better," Alexander said. "We continue saving more and more babies, and continue saving more babies with an excellent quality of life."

Winnie Palmer Hospital is the second-largest labor and delivery hospital in the country, and it delivers more than 13,000 babies each year. Since its creation, the hospital has cared for more than 40,000 high-risk infants.

"It doesn't matter if you're a professional golfer, if you're a lawyer, a construction worker...You come here, they take care of you, they help you through the beginning of these kids' lives," Alexander said.

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