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Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Why choose Ochsner Health for neonatal intensive care?

Babies born prematurely or with serious health problems need specialized care and support for a successful start to life outside the womb. That’s exactly what they receive throughout Ochsner’s network of neonatal intensive care units, or NICUs, in Louisiana and Mississippi. When your baby enters a neonatal intensive care unit, they’ll receive around-the-clock care from a multidisciplinary team of experts until they’re healthy enough to go home with you.

Our neonatal intensive care units are equipped to offer varying levels of medical care to premature babies based on their gestational age (how long they have been in the womb) and health status. If your baby needs a higher level of care than your local Ochsner hospital provides, we’ll transfer them to another NICU in our system. Our flagship, 54-bed neonatal intensive care unit at Ochsner Baptist Women’s Pavilion in New Orleans offers access to leading-edge treatment technologies and the full range of pediatric specialists and subspecialists through nearby Ochsner Hospital for Children.

Whether your baby is receiving care in the neonatal intensive care unit at Ochsner Baptist Women’s Pavilion or one of the other NICUs in our network, they have the expertise and services of our entire health system behind them.

Several factors set neonatal intensive care at Ochsner apart, including:

  • Commitment to convenience and keeping families close to their babies. If your baby is born at or transferred to Ochsner Baptist Women’s Pavilion, we’ll work to ensure they’re transferred to a hospital close to your home as soon as it’s safe to do so.

  • Comprehensive team of pediatric experts. Your baby will have access to pediatric cardiologists, pediatric surgeons, pediatric ear, nose and throat specialists, and many other specialists and subspecialists through Ochsner Hospital for Children.

  • In-unit cameras. Some of our neonatal intensive care units feature cameras that allow parents to watch their babies when they can’t be with them.

  • Robust research. We’re participating in studies to gain a better understanding of the effectiveness of some of the medicines we administer to newborn babies in our neonatal intensive care units.

  • Sophisticated treatments and support. We offer total body cooling at several NICU locations to reduce a baby’s body temperature if the baby’s brain was deprived of oxygen and injured during delivery. This cooling minimizes the severity of the brain injury. We also offer different types of ventilation and ECMO, an advanced form of life support.

  • Support for parents. Social workers support parents throughout their baby’s stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. These professionals help parents secure access to transportation and other resources.

Ochsner neonatal intensive care units offer different levels of care, including:

  • Level 1. This level of care is for full-term babies without serious health conditions, as well as near-term babies who need stabilizing before transfer to a higher-level unit

  • Level 2. A Level 2 neonatal intensive care unit is for babies born at or later than 32 weeks’ gestation with a serious health condition.

  • Level 3. In a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit, seriously ill babies — typically born before 32 weeks — have access to a wide range of pediatric specialists and leading-edge equipment.

  • Level 4. The babies with the most complex health issues go to a Level 4 neonatal intensive care unit. There, they can receive the comprehensive, highly specialized care they need.

Caring for a premature baby requires a multidisciplinary team. Leading this team is a neonatologist, a physician specially trained to care for premature babies. Neonatal nurses and a neonatal nurse practitioner will coordinate closely with the neonatologist to provide around-the-clock care for babies. A pediatric hospitalist, a pediatrician on the hospital staff who only cares for hospitalized children, may handle day-to-day care for infants who are improving and no longer need critical care.

Other care team members may include:

  • Dietitians to help oversee nutrition

  • Hospital chaplain to provide spiritual support to families

  • Lactation consultants to help new mothers and babies with breastfeeding

  • Pharmacists to provide medicines and ensure they’re administered correctly

  • Physical, occupational and speech therapists to assist the staff in nurturing developmental skills

  • Respiratory therapists to help manage breathing support

  • Social workers to advocate for, educate and support families, as well as connect them with helpful resources

Physicians from multiple pediatric specialties may be part of your baby’s care team, depending on their needs. You may also work with lab or imaging technicians, nurses’ aides and other medical personnel during your baby’s stay.

Most babies who need care in a neonatal intensive care unit are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. These premature babies may have a low birth weight or birth defects — abnormalities, such as a hole in the heart or a leaky heart valve, that are present at birth. Premature babies may struggle with proper nutrition or breathing on their own, requiring extra support until they improve.

Multiple births, such as twins, may have a low birth weight and often need care in a neonatal intensive care unit. Other factors that may warrant care in a neonatal intensive care unit include a difficult birth, such as a breech (buttocks- or feet-first) delivery, or a maternal risk factor, such as substance use.

Every baby’s experience in the neonatal intensive care unit is different. Your baby’s treatment will depend on their overall health and health conditions, among other factors. They may need advanced life support, such as a heart-lung machine known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or a ventilator or feeding tube. Your baby will be placed in an incubator, and neonatal nurses will monitor their vital signs and deliver care as directed by the neonatologist.

During your baby’s stay, you may be encouraged to breastfeed, if possible, and practice “kangaroo care,’’ which means skin-to-skin contact with your baby. This helps you bond with your baby and can aid their recovery. Before your baby leaves the hospital, the care team will form a plan for the transition to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.

FAQs

Yes, but every hospital has its own hours and visitation policy. Check with your hospital.

Length of stay is based on each baby’s health, progress and many other factors. Some babies only stay days. Others may stay weeks or months.

Our neonatal transport team can be on the road or in the air within 30 minutes, weather permitting.

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Map of Ochsner-affiliated facilities that provide services related to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Locations

Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center
1214 Coolidge St.
Lafayette, LA 70503
  • Open 24/7
Ochsner LSU Health - St. Mary Medical Center
915 Margaret Place
Shreveport, LA 71101
  • Open 24/7
Ochsner LSU Health - Monroe Medical Center
4864 Jackson St.
Monroe, LA 71202
  • Open 24/7
Ochsner Baptist Women's Pavilion
2700 Napoleon Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70115
Ochsner Medical Center - West Bank Campus
2500 Belle Chasse Highway
Gretna, LA 70056
  • Open 24/7
Ochsner Medical Center - Baton Rouge
17000 Medical Center Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70816
  • Open 24/7
Ochsner Baptist - A Campus of Ochsner Medical Center
2700 Napoleon Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70115
  • Open 24/7
Ochsner Medical Center - Kenner
180 West Esplanade Ave.
Kenner, LA 70065
  • Monday – Friday: 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.