Delivering the Highest Level of Care to Tiny Patients

July 03, 2014

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at University Hospital is now designated as a Level IV NICU, the highest level of care available to treat the tiniest and most critically ill babies.

Babies who are born prematurely or who are critically ill have the highest demands for specialized resources and require around-the-clock, multidisciplinary care. The level designation is critical for those babies to get the level of care they need at a NICU that can provide it, and for the best outcomes.

As University Health System enhanced its pediatric specialty services over the past year, it added a technology called ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, to temporarily replace the function of lungs in very sick children. And with that very important addition, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit qualified to raise its designation to Level IV — the highest level of care for the tiniest and most critically ill babies.

A Level IV NICU must have the capability to provide:

  • Surgical repair of complex congenital and acquired conditions
  • A full range of pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists
  • Outreach education, and transportation of critically ill babies to the NICU

University Hospital opened its beautiful new Tree House NICU wing on the fifth floor of the Horizon Tower last year, bringing the total number of NICU beds to 58. Our NICU treats 600 infants from throughout South Texas each year.

In addition to our team of neonatologists available around the clock, our NICU includes a dedicated pharmacist, respiratory therapists, a dedicated clinical lab operating 24 hours a day, and specially trained staff for counseling, pastoral care, financial and travel assistance and more.

The NICU also features parent/infant rooms where parents can "room in" with their baby prior to discharge, computerized bedside medical charting and electronic medical record, and equipment for obtaining and reviewing digital portable radiographs.