Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit NICU

Some babies need extra care. St. Joseph’s Health Hospital is very proud to have a level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) that is equipped and staffed 24 hours a day to provide newborn critical care. We recognized the importance of having a highly-skilled, technologically-advanced environment in 1970 when we opened the first NICU in the region. Although the science and technology have changed dramatically over the years, our commitment to providing evidenced based, family-centered care has remained our priority. Each year, sick or premature infants from 16 Central New York counties receive care in our Level III NICU. 

St. Joseph’s Health Hospital is the only Baby Friendly hospital in Central New York, recognized for practicing the gold standard guidelines for breastfeeding education and support established by the WHO and UNICEF. We are also a two-time winner of the Guardian of Excellence award for Neonatal Intensive Care Patient Experience by Press Ganey, which recognizes top-performing health care organizations that have consistently achieved the 95th percentile or above in their performance. And, we are also proud to be a “Cribs for Kids” certified safe sleep hospital which recognizes health care systems for their commitment to infant safe sleep through modeling and teaching safe sleep best practices. 

The NICU nursery is located on the same floor as Labor and Delivery, the Mother-Baby Unit and the Birth Place. Designed as a place for babies and parents, it is as calming and nurturing as it is technologically advanced. The NICU staff realizes that having a baby in an intensive care unit can be a stressful time for your entire family. We are committed to family-centered care and strive to take your needs into consideration, while providing optimum care for your baby. Parents are considered an instrumental part of the healthcare team/decision making process and they are included in daily rounds to ensure consistent communication amongst the team.

Our Staff 

The NICU is fully staffed with registered nurses, neonatal nurse practitioners and board-certified neonatologists who are specially trained in the care of infants born prematurely and/or with special needs. We have 24/7 Neonatal Nurse Practitioner coverage and our Neonatologists are on call at all hours, if they are not already physically present. We attend all high-risk deliveries and all of the NICU nurses are trained in Neonatal Resuscitation. 

Our team collaborates exceptionally well with inter-disciplinary teams including respiratory, radiology, spiritual care, and case management. We provide coordination of developmental care for infants and we will assess infant behavior, provide support to parents, and can help you chart your baby’s progress. Your baby may be followed by a developmental specialist after discharge to ensure they are progressing as expected. 

Visiting Policy 

Parents are encouraged to visit their baby as often as possible. Family and friends can visit the baby accompanied by one parent. You are limited to two visitors at the bedside at one time. All visitors to the NICU must be free from illness. 

Sibling Visitation 

Siblings over age three may visit with parents. Please arrange visiting time in advance with staff. Visiting siblings must wear cover gown, mask and gloves. Other visiting children may look through the window of the NICU. 

What You Can Do 

While visiting, parents are encouraged to participate in the baby’s care as the medical condition allows. Talk to your baby in a soft, gentle tone. You may bring pictures for your baby to look at or a small toy that can sit next to the baby's bed.  Parents are encouraged to hold their baby skin to skin (kangaroo care) to provide warmth, comfort and bonding. 

Continuing with the family centered care model, parents are encouraged to attend daily rounds with their babies' treatment team, which may include MDs, NNPs, RNs, LC, Case Manager, Social Worker, and Spiritual Care. This allows parents to stay up to date on their babies' plan of care and ask questions as needed. 

Feeding Your Baby in NICU 

In many instances, babies in the intensive care nursery are unable to be fed in the "traditional" ways (breast or bottle). Your baby may receive nutrition by IV (intravenous) fluids or a feeding tube. Your baby’s physician will determine when he/she is able to feed orally. 

Breastfeeding Your Baby 

Breastfeeding is very beneficial for all babies, even those requiring special care. If you would like to breastfeed your baby, please make sure your baby’s physician and our NICU staff are aware of your preference. Lactation Consultants will happily help you breastfeed. Electric pumps are available to moms for use while visiting your baby and you can bring your breast milk to the NICU from home. The staff will arrange a rental pump for you to use at home. There are also multiple options for donor breast milk should babies meet specific, high-risk criteria. 

Camera Policy 

You may photograph or videotape your own baby as often as you wish; we ask that you not photograph any other baby, nursery surroundings, hospital staff or any of the equipment in the NICU. 

Overnight/Extended Visit Accommodations 

Our staff can assist you in making arrangements to stay at the local Ronald McDonald House or perhaps at another facility if you are discharged before your baby. 

When Your Baby Is Ready to Go Home 

A comprehensive discharge plan is arranged for your baby from the moment he or she enters the NICU.  Our case manager will meet with you early on and help you through the transition from hospital to home; to obtain specialists, services and equipment if necessary; and help ease any concerns you may have. An instruction room is available in the NICU where parents may spend a night with their baby, learning to care for him/her before discharge. If your baby should need any special equipment or skilled nursing services, one of our staff members will work with you to meet your baby’s needs and prepare you for going home. 

Discharge Policy 

Because the NICU staff matches both baby and mother ID bracelets at infant discharge, mothers of infants in NICU need to keep their ID bracelet on until their baby is discharged. 

Car Seats 

Under New York state law, any child under the age of seven riding in a car must be in a federally approved car seat. Any baby less than 35 weeks of age will have a car seat evaluation done in the NICU prior to discharge. 

Take a First Hand Look 

If you would like to tour the intensive care nursery before your baby is born, please call 315-448-5515 to arrange an appointment.