What is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit?
The McLane Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which is located at the Scott & White Hospital - Temple, cares for the most fragile and premature newborns as well as full-term newborns diagnosed with serious or life-threatening conditions.
The NICU is staffed by deeply experienced pediatric physician-specialists called neonatologists. They oversee each child’s care and collaborate with other pediatric specialists, such as neurologists, cardiologists, and pulmonologists. Specialists monitor these tiny patients around the clock in the 56-bed unit. The most advanced technology to support the fragile infant’s breathing and other life-sustaining measures are readily available.
Our unit cares for 600 to 700 newborns each year, and at the McLane Children's NICU, our health outcomes for infants rank among the top neonatal care units in the United States. The average length of stay for extremely premature infants is about three months.
What kinds of conditions do neonatologists treat?
Our neonatal specialists have advanced training in medical conditions affecting different body systems.
They treat infants in the NICU with several issues:
- Respiratory problems—Premature infants often have not spent enough time in the womb for their lungs to fully develop. Many may need a respirator or other respiratory assistance until they grow enough to start breathing on their own. Common respiratory conditions in infants include:
- Birth defects (including congenital heart defects)—Our physicians identify, monitor, and treat congenital heart defects with the aid of a pediatric cardiologist. Newborns requiring surgery are cared for in our NICU. Children with birth defects of the brain, spine, intestines, kidneys, lungs, genitals, and limbs are all managed here.
- Feeding problems—Gaining weight is an infant’s most important job. But sometimes this can be a difficult task, especially if the newborn’s health is compromised by an underlying medical condition. Our doctors and nurses monitor your baby’s weight daily. We can provide supplemental nutrition to your baby through his or her veins or through a tube placed in his or her mouth. We will help feed your baby until he or she is strong enough to be fed by breast or bottle.