Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Model of Care

The Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) is a 60-bed Level III newborn intensive care unit that provides complex multidisciplinary care to more than 3,000 babies each year. Although two-thirds of these babies are evaluated briefly and have short stays, more than 1,000 are admitted each year for newborn intensive care.

We are the largest high-risk delivery service in New England chosen by many patients in our region as well as from other areas of the United States and by many international patients. Although most of our NICU babies are born at BWH, an increasing number are transferred to BWH from other hospitals. As an academic medical center we strive to achieve excellence in newborn care as well as conducting groundbreaking research.

Fetal Care Program

A strength of our NICU is our very active Fetal Care Program. Currently, there are approximately 6,000 deliveries at BWH annually. Thirty to 40 percent are mothers whose pregnancies are classified as high-risk or complicated. Our team works closely with the BWH Maternal-Fetal Medicine team and specialists at Boston Children’s Hospital to provide counseling as well as prenatal and perinatal care for families experiencing complications for the fetus during pregnancy.

Multidisciplinary Team

Our NICU staff is multidisciplinary and highly collaborative. Our medical team includes resident physicians, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners, fellows (pediatricians training to become specialists in newborn medicine) and attending neonatologists. There is at least one attending neonatologist working in the NICU at all times, day or night.

In addition to the medical team, the group is comprised of respiratory therapists, social workers, speech and language specialists, chaplains, lactation consultants, NICU family support specialists, nutritionists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, physical therapists, and unit coordinators.

Our team also works closely with the BWH obstetric group, the BWH Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialists, and with a wide variety of pediatric subspecialist services to provide optimal care for NICU patients. When a high risk birth is anticipated or a delivery complication occurs, our team is in the delivery room to provide the care the baby needs, spanning the full spectrum from full cardiopulmonary resuscitation and/or urgent transfer for cardiac or surgical interventions to routine skin-to-skin care with his or her mother.

Specially Designed Care Teams

Each baby in the NICU is assigned to a team designed to meet his or her specific needs.

  • Intensive care teams focus on the most critically ill babies.
  • The intermediate care team cares for infants with more stable medical conditions.
  • The growth and development team supports infants with chronic and complex medical needs.
  • The birth and transition team is dedicated to caring for infants in the delivery room, short NICU stay patients, and consulting with families whose babies are at high risk of needing NICU care in advance of delivery.

Family-centered Care

The BWH NICU teams practice family-centered care and strongly encourage parents to participate in the care of their infant. We are one of a handful of NICUs to collaborate with the March of Dimes in a NICU Family Support program and are extremely fortunate to have three former NICU parents serving as liaisons to support and guide parents through their baby’s NICU journey. NICU team members provide parents with daily updates and are available to meet as a multidisciplinary team with families for more extended discussions regarding their baby’s progress.

Even with all we have to offer, it is each baby’s parents who really are at the heart of their child’s NICU Team.

We strive every day to transform newborn intensive care by offering the most advanced technologies to our babies as well as by delivering compassionate, family-centered care.

Our goal is for every baby to receive the best possible newborn care and for every family to be equally well cared for—to be fully informed, engaged, and integrated in their baby’s care, from the very beginning.

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