The American Academy of Pediatrics classifies hospital nurseries based on their ability to care for babies with different levels of medical needs. This information (adapted from the March of Dimes) can help you understand the different levels of care.
Level I, Well Newborn Nursery—Cares for healthy babies born at or after 35 weeks. Partners with other local or regional facilities to transport newborns who are sick or born before 35 weeks.
Level II, Special Care Nursery—Cares for babies born at or after 32 weeks who weigh more than 1,500 grams (3.3 pounds) and have less serious health problems, or who no longer require intensive care but need a little more time to heal and grow before going home.
Level III, NICU—An intensive care unit made for babies who are born before 32 weeks or weigh less than 1,500 grams, babies of any age or weight who are critically ill, and babies who need equipment to help them breathe. These hospitals have specially trained doctors and nurses as well as equipment designed to care for very sick babies.
Level IV, Regional NICU—This is the highest level of care for babies. Children’s Mercy is the only Level IV NICU within a 200-mile radius, providing specialized services for babies who need surgery or highly advanced medical care. Every type of pediatric subspecialist (doctors who treat a certain system, like baby’s heart, lungs or kidneys) is available on-site and will work as a team to help your baby.
Why is a Level IV NICU important?
The American Academy of Pediatrics has designated Children’s Mercy as a Level IV NICU. This is the highest designation available and means babies have access to a full range of more than 400 newborn medicine specialists, highly-trained pediatric nurses and anesthesiologists, and specialized equipment for our tiniest patients.
Children’s Mercy is the only hospital between St. Louis and Denver that can provide this level of care.
What to expect in the NICU
When you’re part of our NICU community, know that we’re going to take the very best care of you and your little one. Parents can stay with their babies anytime, and we encourage you to participate as much as you can in your baby’s care. You’re welcome to ask questions and give your input each morning during daily rounds, when your baby’s doctors and nurses discuss the care plan.
There’s a whole team of people here to help you, too. In addition to your medical providers and nurses, we have psychologists, social workers, Child Life specialists, lactation consultants, chaplains and a parent support program coordinator who are all part of your family’s care team.
Stay close, stay connected
You can stay close by to your baby and still find time and space to take care of yourself. We have a family break room in the NICU itself, the Ronald McDonald House (across the street) and Family Room (in the hospital), and discounted rates on local hotel rooms for families of Children’s Mercy patients. Your social worker can help you get connected with these resources.
For times when you need to be away from the hospital for an extended time, our TeleBear program uses videoconferencing technology to help you stay connected with your baby. Parents can also call at any time to get an update on their baby. You will need your personal passcode, and we will only give information to parents over the phone, not other family members.
Visitors are welcome, with certain restrictions to protect the health and safety of babies in the NICU. Talk with your nurse or parent support coordinator for more information about visitors.