Sometimes a baby faces special challenges upon entering the world. A premature birth, a difficult recovery or a birth defect may require a newborn to be admitted to the Franciscan St. Anthony Health - Crown Point Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU. Level III designated assures 24-hour availability of in-house, experienced staff to provide comprehensive care for critically ill newborns and management of obstetric complications.
The NICU, a 12-bed unit located in The Birth Place, offers advanced procedures, technology and expertise to give very small or very ill newborns the best chance for a healthy start in life. Our team of doctors, nurses and other health professionals demonstrates the genuine caring, warmth and sincerity that bring our mission of service to life and offer reassurance and confidence to parents and referring physicians alike.
Will my baby need the NICU?
Few parents expect it, but almost 10 percent of all babies born require special care in the NICU.
The reasons can vary and may include:
Prematurity (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
Early Term Infants (born at 37-39 weeks)
Low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds)
Infant of Diabetic Mothers
Each baby is evaluated individually by a medical team to determine the need for admission to the NICU. If a newborn has a heart condition or requires surgery, the baby will be admitted or will be transferred to an acute tertiary care center, but will usually return to the NICU until it's time to go home.
Who is on my baby's medical team?
The team of medical professionals who care for your baby is available 24 hours a day and led by a neonatologist, a physician who has special training in the care of sick and premature babies. Nurses in NICU have both the advanced training and the special touch to care for very small or very sick newborns. Many have years of experience — some three decades or more — and all are deeply involved in assessing new technology and treatment to continually improve the quality of care provided to their patients.
Your baby's medical team also includes a host of other health care professionals who will work together and with you to ensure your baby receives precisely the care he or she needs, and is ready to go home as soon as possible.
- Respiratory therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Physical therapists
- Breastfeeding consultants
- Social workers
What can I expect in the NICU?
The NICU is a busy but fairly quiet place, where all the attention is focused on the newborns' safety, comfort and healing. The large, open room allows the nurses to communicate freely with parents, doctors and other nurses and to get help and support quickly for a tiny baby's needs. This safe and supportive environment also fosters close relationships among the parents who gather to watch, listen and be part of their child's early days.
Your baby may be placed in an Isolette®, a small bed enclosed in a clear, hard plastic shell where the temperature is closely controlled. Openings in the side allow staff members and parents to reach inside to touch and care for the baby.
Special equipment is often required to help babies in the NICU get the nutrition, medication and monitoring they need to gain weight and strength.
- Feeding tubes deliver breast milk or formula into the baby's stomach through the mouth or nose.
- IVs or arterial lines are flexible tubes inserted into veins or arteries to deliver fluids and medications or to check blood pressure and oxygen levels in the blood.
- Monitors detect your baby's heart and breathing rates, temperature and blood oxygen levels, using coated wires attached to your baby's skin with a patch.
- Ventilators are machines that help your baby breathe, connecting to the newborn through a plastic tube that's placed into the windpipe through the nose or mouth.
- Z-FLO positioners are fluidized developmental positioners that aid in recreating the "womb" for early babies aiding in their comfort and rest, and have been shown to lead to less days on the vent, earlier feedings, and earlier discharge home.
- Phototherapy helps the baby recover from jaundice, through lights attached to the Isolette®.
When it comes time for your new arrival to go home, two rooming-in rooms are available for an overnight stay - subject to availability. To prepare for discharge, parents can care for their baby - who may be going home on oxygen, tube feedings, apnea monitor or special medications - with the nursing staff close by for help and advice.
For more information
If you are a parent - or soon to be - and you have any questions about the NICU or the process of admission or transfer, or you are a referring physician with questions or with a patient you would like to admit, please call (219) 681-6863.