Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
Making a big difference in little lives.
When the birth of your child comes with medical challenges, poses potential risks, or happens prematurely, your baby will most likely get admitted into a special area of the hospital called the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
The NICU at St. Bernards Medical Center opened in 2012 and is the only one in the region. NICUs are designated by levels (I through IV) based on the complexity of care they can provide. Our NICU is a 19-bed, level IIIA unit (designated by the Arkansas Department of Health) and our team is able to safely provide continuous care to critically-ill term and preterm infants delivered 12-13 weeks early for as long as needed.
Our experienced team has provided care to more than 1,500 babies and their families. In some very specific cases (like surgeries), babies need to be referred to a level IV NICU (either Arkansas Children's or LeBonheur) for which our neonatologist will work with you to provide the best option.
To transfer an infant to our NICU, please call 870.207.7050 to communicate with our neonatology team.
The NICU Team
Our experienced, specially trained team will work with you to provide the best, most individualized care for your baby while in the NICU. At St. Bernards, we strongly believe in a teamwork approach. Our team communicates constantly with each other and work together to enhance each baby’s care. This team includes:
You, the parents: parents are a very important part of the care of the baby. Several scientific studies have demonstrated that parental involvement improves the neurodevelopmental progress of the baby. Reading, talking and helping with the baby’s care will help you both bond.
Neonatologist: a medical doctor who trained as a pediatrician and finished an additional three years of specialized training in neonatal care. They coordinate and decide your baby’s daily care plan and are available 24 hours a day if a problem arises. Our neonatologists are Dr. Douglas Seglem, Dr. Enrique Gomez, and Dr. Audra Stewart.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner: an experience neonatal nurse who has completed a master degree specializing in the care of sick and healthy infants in the NICU. They are able to provide resuscitation and do procedures as needed. They work hand in hand with the rest of the team to coordinate and provide care. Danielle Hicks is our nurse practitioner.
Neonatal Nurses: they are registered nurses who have completed specialized training in the care of sick and healthy infants. Our nurses are also proficient in newborn resuscitation and breastfeeding support. They keep our neonatologists continuously informed of the care and status of your baby.
Neonatal Respiratory Therapist: RTs are trained to provide care of patients with respiratory problems. Our RTs are specially trained to work with infants to provide respiratory care to any baby needing extra support. Additionally, they are trained to perform endotracheal intubation and go on neonatal transports.
Our team also includes certified lactation nurses, patient care technicians, occupational therapists, dieticians, pharmacists, physical therapists, speech therapists, social workers, and chaplains.
Admission and Discharge from the NICU
We understand that it is difficult when a baby has to stay in the NICU. We strongly believe that parents need to be involved in the baby’s care. A baby could be admitted to the NICU for any of these conditions:
- Born prematurely (less than 35 weeks gestation) or weigh less than 4 pounds
- Signs or symptoms of an infection
- Breathing problems
- Feeding problems
- Birth defect
- Low blood sugar
- Any symptom that requires close monitoring, as determined by your obstetrician and the neonatologist
We also receive babies transferred from surrounding hospitals that need neonatal intensive care.
While your baby is in the NICU, we invite you to read to your baby as much as possible. Research has shown the benefits of maternal reading to preterm infants. Once your baby is stable, we encourage you to team up with our nurses to join in the baby's care by changing diapers, taking temperatures, and feeding your baby. We support Kangaroo Care (holding your baby skin-to-skin) and we will help you do it. We strongly encourage the use of breastmilk in the NICU and our team of full-time International Board-Certified Lactation nurses will work with you to provide all the support needed.
Once the baby is stable, we start considering when the baby will be discharged home. During the NICU stay, we will start working together to provide you with training for when the baby is at home. Written instructions and anything else you need will be provided at discharge.
In order for baby to go home, the following signs are needed:
- No longer requires oxygen
- Takes all feedings by mouth
- Maintains his/her temperature in a regular crib
Once discharge is approaching, our team will work with you to make sure you have all the information and training needed.
NICU Services and Programs
Available services at our NICU include:
- Continuous Mechanical Ventilation and High Frequency Ventilation
- Total Parenteral Nutrition
- Pediatric Ophthalmology Evaluation
- Pediatric Echocardiography Services
- Pediatric Ultrasonography Services
- Radiologist Services
- Lactation Consultants
- Pediatric Pharmacy available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Outreach Program: Whenever requested, our NICU providers provide educational support to the hospitals surrounding Jonesboro. These programs include Neonatal Resuscitation Training, STABLE training and classes for Family Medicine Residents among others.
Vermont Oxford Network: The network is a non-profit voluntary association of over 1,300 NICUs from around the world with a shared goal of improving quality, safety and value of care for newborn infants and their families. Our NICU collaborates with the network in order to track clinical practices and patient outcomes to advance better practices and identify opportunities for improvement of neonatal care.
Breastfeeding Program: At St. Bernards, we believe that breastfeeding is the most important component of neonatal care. When a baby is admitted to the NICU, our lactation team will work with you to get you started with breast pumping as soon as possible. We also provide Donor Breast Milk (pasteurized and fully tested) for those babies who don't have access to breastmilk.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I am delivering at another hospital?
If your baby requires intensive care, he or she can be transferred to St. Bernards Medical Center. You can ask your OB or the person taking care of your baby to contact us. Our transfer line is: 870.207.7050.
What is the average length of stay?
Depending on your baby's condition, it can be hours while others have stayed with us up to 4 months. Once your baby is stable and the discharge date is approaching, we will work to provide you with all the necessary training and information needed to take the baby home.
How often can I see my baby and what is the visitation policy?
We encourage you to visit your baby as much as possible. A maximum of two visitors, including parents, are welcome to visit any time. Parents are always allowed to stay in the unit. There will be limited time for other visitors. Siblings ages 12 and older can visit with an adult.
We ask that you respect that anyone with a recent or current illness or symptoms of illness should not visit and will not be permitted to visit. Please call us at hospital extension 4392 or 870.207.4392 in preparation to visit.
What kind of follow-up care will my baby need?
We arrange for all of our babies to follow-up with a pediatrician of your preference. If you baby requires special care after discharge, the neonatologist and case managers will arrange appointments for you.
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