A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

How do you pick a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)?

Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) provide specialized care to premature or ill newborn babies. Marshfield Children’s Hospital’s NICU is specially equipped to provide expert care for children in critical situations.

Baby sleeping in neonatal intensive care units NICU

Marshfield Children’s Hospital has a 24-bed Level III NICU to care for premature or ill newborn babies.

Which babies are treated in the NICU?

Hanna Rakovec, NICU nurse manager at Marshfield Children’s Hospital, said her department typically sees newborns born between 23–42 weeks gestational age. They also treat babies who have diagnoses including, but not limited to, seizures, genetic conditions, persistent pulmonary hypertension, respiratory distress syndrome and transient tachypnea of the newborn.

Rakovec said babies who are discharged from the hospital but then return for treatment are generally seen in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) rather than the NICU.

Transitioning to the NICU

Sometimes patients need to be moved to a different hospital to receive care from the neonatal intensive care unit, which is why many NICUs have a transport team. Marshfield Children’s Hospital has a highly trained neonatal transport team to safely transport babies to and from the Children’s hospital as needed

The NICU transport team includes a specially trained transport nurse and a respiratory therapist that travel with the newborn via air (helicopter or fixed wing plane) or ground transport (ambulance). The neonatal transport team provides this service 24/7, 365 days a year.

“Our NICU transport team is here to make sure the newborn arrives safely and quickly so they can start to receive the proper care right away,” Rakovec said. “In this field, seconds matter.”

What sets NICUs apart?

Neonatal intensive care units are monitored by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and evaluated for the level of care each can provide. There are three levels a NICU can be, with level IV being the highest level of care and level II being the lowest level of care.

Individuals from the American Academy of Pediatrics come to each NICU in the U.S. to review the programs for quality and provide recommendations to ensure they meet the standards for a specific level of care.

RELATED RESOURCE: Learn more about American Academy of Pediatric NICU levels

The NICU at Marshfield Children’s Hospital is a 24-bed Level III NICU and is staffed 24/7 with board-certified neonatologists and also has board-certified perinatologists on staff.

“We have many subspecialties available at our facility,” she said.

Those subspecialties include providers in:

  • Cardiology
  • Neurology
  • Oncology
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Genetics
  • Ophthalmology
  • Urology
  • Nephrology
  • Pediatric Psychology

“Aside from cardiac surgery and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (a treatment for heart-lung bypass support), we provide any service and have every technology a baby in our NICU could need,” Rakovec said.

Critical partnerships

Parents of babies in neonatal intensive care units have the option of staying directly next door to the children’s hospital at Ronald McDonald House Charities while their child is in the hospital.

“We work very closely with Ronald McDonald House, which puts parents just steps away from the hospital and their babies,” Rakovec said.

Rakovec added that Marshfield Children’s Hospital is a Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospital. One way CMN supports the hospital’s NICU is by providing funding for equipment.

“This is an essential partnership for us,” Rakovec said. “For example, CMN provided funding for cameras at every patient bedside in the NICU so parents can see their babies remotely, when they cannot be at the hospital.”

Learn more about the neonatal intensive care unit at Marshfield Children’s Hospital.

Learn more about the neonatal intensive care unit Find a NICU provider

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