When your baby is born too early or has serious medical needs, your delivering hospital may send your child to Le Bonheur’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Our unit offers the highest level of care (level IV) available in area NICUs.
We’re staffed by board certified neonatologists and neonatal nurse practitioners 24-hours a day. Our NICU also gives newborns access to a variety of medical subspecialists and technology. Our 60-bed unit includes single rooms in addition to rooms for multiples and space for parents to remain with their newborn at all times.
U.S. News & World Report ranks our program among the top children's neonatology programs in the country.
Newborns are transferred to Le Bonheur
Our patients are born at 31 birthing hospitals across the region and then transferred by ambulance or helicopter to Le Bonheur. Babies are transferred by a specially trained transport team, Pedi-Flite, which includes pediatric critical care nurses, pediatric respiratory therapists and paramedics. When necessary, Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NNPs) or neonatal physician fellows accompany the Pedi-Flite team. Our transport team brings breast milk pumping kit to the birthing hospital to ensure that mothers have the supplies necessary to begin the breast feeding process.
At Le Bonheur, we have a comprehensive team ready to address your newborn’s unique medical needs. From the board-certified physicians to lactation consultants and parent mentors, our team is ready to help your child and family.
- Before birth, the Fetal Center team
Sometimes, mothers are referred to Le Bonheur’s Fetal Center before their child is born. The center cares for high-risk pregnancy patients from diagnosis to fetal interventions. The team includes obstetricians, perinatologists, neonatologists and other subspecialists. Based on a patient’s diagnosis, the Fetal Center works with the right subspecialists at Le Bonheur to develop an individualized plan of care.
- Access to a full range of specialties
Babies in our NICU have access to board-certified physicians in more than 40 subspecialties including several surgical specialties, cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology, nephrology, genetics, pulmonology, endocrinology and infectious disease.
- Physicians and nurses trained to care for newborns
Our medical team in the NICU includes neonatologists, neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) and neonatal nurses. Our board certified neonatologists are pediatric physicians specially trained in the care of ill and premature newborns. Le Bonheur’s NNPs are board certified, advanced practice nurses with specialized education in neonatology. NNPs provide specialized medical management and treatment for ill or premature newborns under supervision and in collaboration with Neonatologists. Our neonatal nurses go through a distinctive, nationally standardized educational program with concentration on newborns in order to provide excellent, individualized nursing care for your baby. Our team conducts research to further the field of knowledge about neonatology.
- A community to care for kids
We realize it takes a lot of people to care for your child. That’s why you’ll see a variety of medical professionals while at Le Bonheur. Our physical and occupational therapists are trained in newborn care. The Child Life team can provide developmentally appropriate education for your baby’s siblings about the infant’s illness. Professionally trained and Licensed Master Social Workers help patients and families with a variety of issues that may arise as a result of a child’s illness.
- Mother’s milk
We support nursing mothers as much as we can. Almost 70 percent of our patients receive breast milk. We have a full-time certified lactation consultant who can help with any breastfeeding issues. In addition, we have several nurses on the unit who are certified Lactation Counselors. The unit has private pumping rooms and hospital-grade breast pumps are available. We also have a safe system for expressed breast milk storage. Because it is important to stay hydrated and well-nourished while breastfeeding, we offer free dining for nursing mothers. In the event you can’t nurse your infant, Le Bonheur participates in a donor milk bank. This program gives infants access to safe, pasteurized donor breast milk.
- Parents mentoring parents
We know that hearing from someone who has been in your shoes can be reassuring. Through the Parent Mentor Program, specially-trained veteran NICU parents make regular rounds in the unit. These mentors help parents cope with the issues that come along with a hospitalized newborn. Parent support groups also meet regularly in the unit.
- Our team prepares you to go home
Taking your child home is a momentous occasion. Our team makes sure you have the tools and knowledge you need to care for your newborn at home. A dedicated discharge coordinator will meet with you leading up to discharge.
- Continued care
After your newborn goes home, our multidisciplinary team is still available to address your child’s medical needs. The Newborn Follow Up clinic brings together all the experts needed to develop a plan of care unique to your child’s needs.
Every aspect of Le Bonheur was designed to help children and their families heal. From advanced respiratory care and surgical capabilities to sleeping space for two family members and a resource library, we have all the pieces in place to help your little one get better.
- In-unit pharmacy
A pharmacy is located in the unit, allowing pharmacists to provide a high level of oversight and quick, safe access to medication for patients.
- Therapeutic hypothermia treatment (Head cooling)
Our NICU has the ability to perform therapeutic hypothermia treatment, which lowers a baby’s brain temperature to reduce the risk of organ damage. This intervention is used when there has been a lack of blood flow during birth.
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
Babies in our NICU can undergo ECMO, a special technique for babies with respiratory diseases. With ECMO, blood from the baby's vein is pumped through an artificial lung where oxygen is added and carbon dioxide is removed. The blood is then returned back to the baby.
- Spaces for the family
We believe that children get better faster when they are surrounded by loved ones. That’s why all of our 60 patient rooms are private and have sleeping space for two family members. We also have specially designed rooms for multiples. You’ll also find amenities like family rooms and a laundry room in the unit.
- A hospital to care for families
In addition to all the resources available in the NICU, families have access to a resource center, a mini-movie theater and cafeteria on the ground floor of the hospital.