Neonatal refers to the first 28 days of life. Neonatal care, as known in specialized nurseries or intensive care, has been around since the 1960's.
Level I is for healthy newborns.
Level II is an intermediate care or special care nursery where the baby may be born prematurely or may be suffering from an illness; these babies may need supplemental oxygen, intravenous therapy, specialized feedings, or more time to mature before discharge.
The Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admits all neonates who cannot be treated in either of the other two nursery levels. These babies may be small for their age, premature, or sick term infants who require high technology care, such as ventilators, special equipment or incubators, or surgery. Neonatal nurses provide the direct patient care to these infants.
In the SSM Health St. Mary's NICU, both Level II and Level III babies are cared for. Nurses have the option of working 8 hour or 12 hour shifts or a combination of the two. Nurses who choose to work 8 hour shifts are required to work every other weekend (Saturday and Sunday). Nurses who choose to work 12 hour shifts are required to work every third weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).
NICU nurses must complete the Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) every two years. Nurses are required to attend high risk deliveries (both cesarean-section and vaginal) at SSM Health St. Mary's Family Birth Suites. Nurses are required to take charge nurse responsibilities after 1-2 years experience.
The SSM Health St. Mary's NICU is a closed unit. No nurse is required to float to other areas of the hospital if you choose not to. Likewise, float nurses are rarely a part of the NICU staff (if so they are usually Pediatric or Family Birth Suites nurses). To accommodate the needs of a closed unit, staff work extra or voluntarily take time off on an as needed basis. There is no mandatory overtime.
Many of our nurses have additional skills and certifications including: Certified Lactation Counselor, Certified Passenger Safety Technician, NOMAS (Neonatal Oral Motor Assessment Scale) certified, PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) line inserter, RTS (Resolve Through Sharing) Counselor, transport nurse and accredited neonatal nursing certification.
The average years of experience for nurses in SSM Health St. Mary's NICU that work .4 FTE or greater is 20 years.
Our team transports approximately 90 sick newborns each year. The transport team consists of a neonatologist, a nurse, a respiratory therapist, and an EMT-certified ambulance driver. The transport team assembles its equipment and leaves the hospital within 30 minutes of when the call for help is received.
The team may fly in the Medflight helicopter if the baby is extremely unstable, and then the team will bring the baby back to SSM Health St. Mary's in our specially-equipped ambulance. The supplies that we bring to transport the baby include a portable incubator, portable ventilator, and all other items needed to stabilize the baby. Babies are transported from all hospitals as far north as Mauston and to the state borders east, west, and south of Madison. We call parents that remain in their hospital, as soon as we have settled the baby in our nursery, to update them on how the trip went and the current condition of the baby.