NICU and Neonatal Care in Houston TX
Named a Center of Excellence by the United Resource Network, our neonatal critical care services at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center include a 38-bed Level II Neonatal Special Care Unit and a 80-bed Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
While we use high-tech therapies and advanced equipment, we never lose sight of the value of human touch to the infants in our care.
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Level II Neonatal Special Care Unit
At Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, we provide intermediate care for infants who require continuous observation.
In our Level II Neonatal Special Care Unit, we provide intermediate care for infants who require continuous monitoring and observational support. Level II care may be directed by a pediatrician, family practice physician or neonatologist.
Nursery staff includes multi-specialty trained nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, case managers and child life specialists. Special features include 38 private rooms for families to share time with their infants.
Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
Our Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) provides the full range of care for neonates born prematurely or with congenital birth defects, infection, metabolic problems or other medical or surgical needs.
The nursery is equipped to care for premature babies born as early as 23 weeks of gestation and weighing as little as one pound. We provide specialized respiratory care, including high-frequency ventilation, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and intensive monitoring.
Our unit is known for the special attention it provides to the entire family. This includes kangaroo care while the infant is in the unit and overnight care by the family in parent rooms, which offer a secure environment prior to discharge. All care provided in our nurseries is directed by a neonatologist. We provide developmentally appropriate stimuli and take steps to minimize stress.
Children's Transport Team
The Children's Transport Team operates within a 300 mile radius of Houston using ground and air ambulance services, allowing for the highest level of care while en route to the hospital.
Our Children's Transport Team consists of registered nurses with advanced training focused on providing the highest level of care while en route to the hospital. The team operates within a 150-mile radius of Houston using ground and air ambulance services.
Beyond 150 miles, transport is by Learjet. The transport team also accompanies infants for surgery or in-house tests, transports stable infants back to the referring hospital, attends all high-risk deliveries at Memorial Hermann Hospital and performs advanced procedures in the nursery under physician direction.
Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)
Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital offers a specialized treatment for newborns and children who are critically ill with respiratory failure.
Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital is one of only two hospitals in Houston offering extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a treatment which is used for newborns and children who are critically ill with respiratory failure. The Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) has named the ECMO program at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital a "Designated Center of Excellence." Our program is one of only six in the world to receive the ELSO Award for Excellence in Life Support for 2006-2008.
The ECMO machine functions like a heart-lung bypass machine used in open heart surgery. It uses an artificial lung (membrane) located outside the body (extracorporeal) to put oxygen into the blood. The blood carries the oxygen to body tissues (oxygenation). ECMO can take over the function of the heart and lungs only for a short time.
ECMO is done by siphoning the blood out of the body via a large tube inserted into a vein in the neck. The blood is pumped through the artificial lung where toxic gases, such as carbon dioxide, are removed and replaced with oxygen. The blood is heated and pumped back into the body using the same process. While ECMO does not cure heart or lung disease, it allows time for the heart and lungs to rest and heal.
Our specialized care offers the highest quality outcomes for our tiniest of patients. From a special technique of skin to skin care to family care conferences, our team caters to each individual patient's needs.
Kangaroo care, also called skin-to-skin care, means holding your baby next to your bare chest. The name comes from the way a mother kangaroo cares for her prematurely born baby by holding her little one close to her body in her pouch.
Kangaroo care is good for both mother and baby. When a mother snuggles her baby against her chest, the baby relaxes, breathes easier, sleeps better and may gain weight more quickly.
Because most neonatal patients require special care even after discharge, parent education is important. Our seven care-by-parent rooms offer parents an opportunity for "on-the-job" training in which they learn home care techniques and treatments their infant may require.
Parents may take the time they need, spending the night if necessary, until they feel fully prepared to provide the care their baby needs at home.
Neonatal Pain Management
Comfort activities have been shown to help newborns experiencing pain. These activities include gentle handling and movement, holding the newborn snugly next to your body, rocking, swaddling in a blanket, positioning or holding the baby with arms and legs tucked close to the body, keeping the room quiet and calm and providing a pacifier or fingers for sucking.
When pain is strong, medicine may be needed for relief. Pain medicine can be swallowed, applied to the skin, injected into the skin or muscle or given through a small tube placed in a blood vessel (intravenous catheter or IV).
How the medicine is given depends on the medicine itself, the type and location of the pain and the age and abilities of the baby.
Family sessions with the members of your baby's care team are a good way for parents to help plan their baby's care during hospitalization. Care conferences may be called by anyone who is part of the baby's team, including parents. They can be very helpful for babies with multiple care needs.
Updates on Your Baby's Condition
Our neonatal medical team will make every effort to meet with you in the afternoon to discuss your baby's progress and any issues that may have developed. The team is available daily until 5 p.m.
After 5 p.m., doctors on call staff the nursery, and they may not know all the details of your baby's care. If you can only visit at night, please let the nurse know. We can make special arrangements to schedule an evening meeting when your doctor is on call.
Guidelines for Parents and Visitors
At Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital we understand the emotional stress of having a child in our Neonatal Care Unit. We are here to assist you every step of the way.
For your baby's safety and security, a picture ID is required of anyone entering the nursery, including parents.
Nursery Closed Hours
The Neonatal Special Care and Neonatal Intensive Care units are closed from 6:15 to 7:15 mornings and evenings to allow our nurses to complete their change-of-shift reports. The nurseries are also closed during medical team rounds. In the Level IV NICU, rounds are scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon. In the Level II Special Care Unit, rounds take place from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
Ronald McDonald House
Families of critically ill children can rest and recharge in the home-away-from-home environment of the 14-bedroom Ronald McDonald House located within Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. A true collaboration between the hospital and Ronald McDonald House of Houston, the House includes seven rooms that serve the Pediatric ICU and seven more that serve the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Ronald McDonald House of Houston furnished and decorated the rooms to create a comfortable environment that includes Internet service, refreshments, books, games and other services. The House also has two large family living rooms, laundry facilities and a kitchenette. Each sleep/nap room with adjacent bath is designed to give parents a place to rest or spend the night.
Bedrooms are available from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on a first come, first served basis by checking in at Ronald McDonald House office located on the seventh floor of the Hermann Pavilion. Overnight rooms are available from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 a.m. and are assigned by your child's nurse.
If the parents are married, both husband and wife are legal guardians of their baby, and they determine who may visit. A parent must accompany visitors during each visit.
With the parents' permission, two designated visitors or grandparents may visit by themselves. For privacy, only minimal information will be given to these designated visitors. Parents will be asked to designate a password so that the staff may give detailed information about their baby's condition by telephone.
If the mother is single, the mother is the legal guardian of the baby, and she determines who may visit.
With her permission, the father may come into the nursery by himself. The mother can designate two visitors or grandparents who may visit without her presence. For privacy, only minimal information will be given to these designated visitors. The mother of the baby will be asked to designate a password so that the staff may give her detailed information by telephone.
Children as Visitors
Brothers and sisters of the baby may visit if they are at least 3 years old and accompanied by a legal guardian of the baby. Children younger than 3 years may not come into the nursery. Children other than siblings must be at least 13 years of age to visit.
Preventing the Spread of Infection
Sick and premature babies can catch illnesses from adults and children. Parents and visitors who are ill should speak with a staff member about their symptoms before going into the nursery. If you have sores, suspect you have a contagious illness or have been around someone who is sick or may have chickenpox, please avoid coming to the hospital.
Neonatal Care in Greater Houston
Memorial Hermann's network of hospitals includes a suite of level II and level IV NICUs at convenient suburban locations in the Houston area.