Bay Area Hospital has received designation as a Level III from the Texas Department of State Health Services for their neonatal intensive care unit.
Designation of this level emphasizes the hospital’s ability to care for critically ill babies.
The designation is a result of legislation passed in 2013 requiring Texas to implement neonatal levels of care designations with the intent of ensuring that NICUs have the resources and expertise to provide high-quality patient care.
"Even though we have been a level III, this makes it official, and we have papers to show that. So, we are very excited," said Director of Women’s Services and Neonatal ServicesLiberty King.
To qualify as a Level III NICU, the hospital must meet strict quality and safety guidelines from the Department of State Health Services.
Two key requirements of the Level III neonatal designation are 24-hour, in-house coverage by specialized personnel and a board certified neonatologist available around the clock.
"I think one of the things that make our NICU so unique is that here we have many nurses with more than 10 years of NICU experience. They are very well-educated, they have a very good rapport with their patients, and many of our nurses even keep up with many of the NICU families even after they leave the facility," said King.
The Level III NICU designation means Bay Area Hospital provides expert care for newborns who need highly-specialized treatment, including babies with low birth weights and those born as early as 22 weeks.
"For the community, it means if you come to Bay Area to have your child, and your child is born too early or with any medical difficulties, that we will be able to provide excellent care for their NICU baby or their baby that may be sick," said King.
Bay Area Hospital NICU generally admits more than 700 babies a year.
The Corpus Christi Medical Center – Bay Area NICU team includes board-certified Neonatologists, Neonatal Nurse Practitioners and NICU and Newborn Nursery staff who are certified providers of the Neonatal Resuscitation Program.
A transport team is on 24-hour alert to transfer high-risk infants from other area hospitals and helicopter transport is available when necessary.
NICU patients are generally preterm with very low birth weight (less than 3.3 pounds); these two conditions account for 70-90% of NICU admissions.
Respiratory illnesses are common diagnoses for neonates; as with adults, mechanical ventilation is a common technological support for these patients.
Bay Area Hospital offers a variety of childbirth education and breastfeeding classes to prepare for childbirth.