Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center offers state-of-the-art medical care to premature and sick term newborn infants, in a nurturing, family-centered environment. The unit is staffed by military and civilian medical professionals specially trained to care for our littlest patients. The unit is always locked. Visitors to the NICU should call the nurses station across from the unit door to request entry. Having an infant admitted to the NICU is normally not an expected outcome to a pregnancy and we recognize how stressful and overwhelming this experience can be.
The NICU staff is committed to provide a serene environment to promote healing and bonding. We strive to help you understand what is happening with your infant. We will assist you and your family in gaining the confidence needed to be able to care for your infant in the hospital and at home. During your baby’s stay in the NICU, a team of specially trained staff will provide quality care to your baby. We encourage you to talk to providers, ask questions, and visit as often as possible. It is important to note that hospital Chaplains frequently make rounds in the NICU and are available to meet with you.
Provide quality, compassionate, and family centered Neonatal Care (Level III) to newborns greater than 27 weeks of gestation. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit provides stabilization and pre-transfer care to infants born less than 27 weeks gestation and those who require a higher level of care.
The 12-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is a special area of the Maternal Child Health Section in Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center where doctors and nurses provide around-the-clock care to critical ill premature and term newborns. In the NICU, babies receive more intensive attention than is possible in a regular newborn nursery. The NICU staff members have special training in their fields.
Parents may visit their infant 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, parents will be asked to leave the NICU during the following:
- Nursing change of shifts: 6:45 – 7:15 a.m. and 6:45 – 7:15 p.m.
- Crisis or Emergency situations
Parents must show proper wristband identification or ID card prior to visiting their infant:
- Only two visitors per infant are allowed at any time
- Siblings may visit if they are accompanied by a parent with a copy of their up-to-date immunization record.
- No siblings are permitted to visit if he/she has an upper respiratory infection, temperature, has been exposed to a communicable disease, or has not had chicken pox.
- Grandparents may visit, at any time, if accompanied by one of the parents
- The mother may designate one "significant other" if the father is unavailable or not involved. However, the “significant other” is not allowed to bring visitors into the NICU.
- No children under 12 years of age are allowed on the unit from 1 OCT – 1 APR (RSV Season).
Upon delivery, every baby is assigned an identification band with two corresponding numbered bands. One of these bands will go to the mother and the other will go to a designated support person. Any banded person is encouraged to spend time the new baby in the NICU. We ask that you please follow these guidelines when visiting:
All visitors should be well and in good health. Due to the potential for exposing a NICU patient to illnesses, we ask that you refrain from visiting if you are sick.
- Siblings under the age of 10 must provide a copy of immunizations record that illustrates proof of completed vaccines.
- Children under 12 will not be permitted during the influenza and RSV season that extends from October through April.
Communication in the NICU
Understanding the care your infant receives in the NICU is vitally important to reducing stress during the hospitalization. Neonatologists and NNPs are available to answer questions any time day or night.
- You may call the NICU by telephone at any time to obtain information about your infant. It is the hope of the NICU staff that you feel comfortable in asking questions or conveying any concerns you may have.
- Please remember that we can only give information about an infant’s condition to the parents. Please respect the confidentiality of others in the NICU and refrain from asking questions about or photographing others. The staff can only answer questions about patients who are currently admitted to the NICU, once you have been discharged, please refer to the advice nurse assigned to your clinic for questions or concerns.
- Please limit cell phone conversations while in the NICU. You may take pictures, only at your baby’s bedside. Video calls are allowed at your baby’s bedside with the curtains closed for privacy.
- Everyone entering the NICU must wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water prior to entry into the NICU. See posted guidelines on proper hand-washing technique.
- Newly admitted NICU patients do not tolerate loud noises or stimulation. We ask that you respect our little ones and refrain from loud noises or stimulation such as flash photography.
- For your safety, and the safety of your baby, anyone holding your baby must do so in a sitting position in a chair without wheels (i.e., gliding chair)
- For the privacy of everyone, please do not view or visit the surrounding bedside areas of other patients and/or their families.
- No food or drinks in the NICU. Breastfeeding moms are permitted to have covered water.
The NICU policies and procedures are in compliance with the following regulatory guidance:
Newborn Care Guide
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
- Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP)
- Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN)