Most infants are healthy when they are born, but problems can occur. Located at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, St. Joseph's Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is a place where sick and premature infants can receive special care. Because of their special needs, babies in the NICU get closer attention than babies in a regular newborn nursery, and the NICU staff members have special training in this field. We can even provide them human breast milk, the most nutritious diet possible, through our Breast Milk Donor Program.
The unit is busy; an average of 600 infants a year are admitted and stay anywhere from a few days to four or five months, depending on their medical condition. The types of medical challenges treated in the unit include:
- Pre-term birth. Babies born at 23 weeks gestation and weighing at least 1 lb.
- Babies born with an infection
- Babies who are stressed during birth and need more attention than in the newborn nursery
- Babies born with a congenital anomaly such as spina bifida, bowel conditions and heart defects.
- Babies that require a higher level of care than given in traditional Mother/Baby units.
Level II & Level III NICU
Our NICU is licensed for two levels of intensity: Level III (the highest) has 27 infant beds and Level II has 15 infant beds. A highly skilled and experienced nursing team and six physicians board-certified in neonatology provide care around the clock for our "littlest patients."
Neonatal Transport Team
An infant transport team travels by ambulance or medical helicopter to pick up infants from locations throughout Central Florida, including Orlando, Lakeland, Winter Haven, Plant City and Dade City and bring them back to our NICU for treatment. Many infants, who require neonatal intensive care which may not be available at their birth hospital, benefit from this transport service. Of course, babies who are born at St. Joseph's Women's Hospital and need intensive medical treatment have immediate access to our high level of care.
- BayCare has a Breast Milk Donor Program which provides nutritious human breast milk to babies in the NICU.
- Premature babies always receive a hearing and developmental assessment to determine the need for additional services such as rehabilitation before they go home. Should developmental or medical follow-up be required, arrangements are made prior to the baby's discharge.
- In order to establish a relationship before the baby leaves the hospital, the family's pediatrician becomes involved in the baby's care shortly before discharge. This makes the transition home better for the baby and easier for the parents.
- Our NICU's "Bottle Club" is the only neonatal support group in the area. The group meets twice a month to offer educational and emotional support to families.
- Parents may stay overnight in baby's room. The baby's parent or ID band wearer must be present for visitation of up to four visitors including parents. Sibling visitation is permitted by unit guidelines. See Charge Nurse for information.
Who’s Who in the NICU
- Neonatologist: A pediatrician who has special training in the care of sick and premature newborns.
- Pediatrician: A doctor who treats infants and children.
- Pediatric Surgeon: A surgeon who operates on infants and children.
- Cardiologist: A doctor who cares for people with heart problems.
- Gastroenterologist: A physician who cares for people with stomach and bowel problems.
- Geneticist: A doctor who studies birth defects and their causes.
- Hematologist: A physician who studies and treats blood problems.
- Ophthalmologist: A doctor who treats diseases of the eye.
- Neurologist: A physician who treats brain and nerve problems.
- Neonatal Nurse: A nurse with special training in the care of sick and premature newborns.