When babies are born too early or have serious medical needs, physicians at the delivering hospital may send the newborn to Le Bonheur’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Le Bonheur is the only Level IV NICU in our region.
Level IV NICUs have the highest quality of care available, with capabilities and accessibility to services that go beyond other facilities. They can handle the most acute care and the most complex medical cases, and are located in hospitals that can perform surgeries for congenital or acquired conditions.
A baby will not be transported from a Level IV NICU to go somewhere more specialized, because Level IV is the highest level of neonatal care. A Level IV NICU is the best place for a newborn with specialized needs.
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 specially designed for twins 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 many 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. Our transport team brings a breast milk pumping kit to the birthing hospital to ensure that mothers have the supplies necessary to begin the breastfeeding process.
At Le Bonheur, we have a comprehensive team ready to address the newborn’s unique medical needs. From board-certified physicians to lactation consultants and parent mentors, our team is ready to help every child and family. Learn more about our neonatal care team.
Preparing for a NICU stay
Having a newborn transferred to the NICU is often unexpected for families. Our goal is to support families as much as possible during the stay in our hospital. Our parent guide includes information needed to prepare for a stay in our NICU.
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 (whole-body 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. Whole-body cooling can begin as soon as our transport team arrives at the birth hospital, ensuring that treatment begins as soon as possible so that your baby will have the best possible outcome.
- 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 twins. 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.
Before birth, Le Bonheur’s Fetal Center
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.