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Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

For nearly a century Cook Children's has been caring for newborns and infants with some of the rarest and most challenging conditions. Today, thanks to our continually advancing neonatal medicine, technologies and excellent outcomes, Cook Children's neonatal program is nationally recognized.

The highest level of care

Our Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) designation is the highest level that can be achieved by a NICU. It means that we have the technology and expertise to treat the sickest babies with the most difficult and complex diagnoses. We admit over 1,000 to our NICU each year, and care for babies with all types of diseases, including respiratory, surgical, cardiac, genetic, renal, neurological, hematological and metabolic conditions. We also treat preemies, newborns and infants with mild to critical congenital malformations. We care for babies as young as 23 weeks gestation and as small as one pound (16 ounces) at birth.

What are NICU levels of care?

Advanced neonatal medicine

Because Cook Children's is a pediatric health care system, our neonatology program is surrounded by brilliant pediatric specialists. Babies in our NICU have round-the-clock access to the multi-specialty services, evaluations and critical care.

As part of our advanced care, our NICU features a single patient room design. Single patient rooms have been shown to improve the quality of care that each baby receives from our clinical staff, as well as reducing risk of infection and improving overall outcomes. For many ill and premature babies, the bright lights and noise of a NICU can create sensory overload in these already fragile infants. This affects heart rate and increases stress on their delicate systems. Our single room design allows for a more controlled environment.

Combined with our advanced medicines and technologies, babies in single patient rooms have also been shown to require fewer days in the NICU.

Single rooms mean individualized care

State-of-the-art technology

Treating tiny babies requires very specialized skill and training. It also requires unique technology designed specifically for their tiny bodies. From hearts as small as a peanut to veins that are nearly as thin as kite string, our surgical teams have access to the latest tools and are experienced in the art of intervention.

We also offer the leading-edge technology in ECMO, neonatal imaging, real-time digital monitoring and heart rate observation (HeRO).

Our NICU technology also includes the latest in neonatal communication for our staff. Your baby's monitor is linked to a communication device worn by the nurse and is connected through the central monitoring station at the charge nurse's desk. The nurse can monitor your baby from anywhere in the NICU and will get an alarm notification directly to their communication device. If need be, the nurse can then alert and communicate with other medical staff immediately.

Advanced technology in our NICU

Neonatal research

Cook Children's is actively involved in neonatal research. Our team seeks ways to better treat critically ill babies as well as improving the quality of care, safely and technology for all neonates admitted to neonatal intensive care.

See our active neonatal research

Teddy Bear Transport

Many of our patients are transferred from other health care systems to our NICU by our award-winning Teddy Bear Transport team. Ours is one of the largest pediatric transport programs in the nation, with nearly 3,200 transfers to Cook Children's each year. Our fleet includes a King Air B200 critical care transport airplane*, an American Eurocopter 145 helicopter* and five ambulances. We also have a Cessna Citation Encore+ jet which enables us to transport patients from thousands of miles away—at jet speed.

Every unit of our fleet is equipped to transport critical care patients and features pediatric-oriented technology. Our team of highly specialized nurses, respiratory therapists and paramedics start providing critical services the moment your child is released into their care.

Meet Our Teddy Bear Transport Team

Arrival to our NICU

Upon arrival at Cook Children's NICU, your baby will be cared for by a team of neonatal medical and surgical experts, who are highly experienced in treating fragile babies with rare and complex conditions. The team will work to stabilize your baby and determine what tests or treatments may need to be done immediately. Once in your individual room, your baby will be placed in a specialized bed. Monitors will be connected to your baby to ensure that all vitals are constantly watched and recorded. Each nurse assigned to your baby is also connected to your baby's vitals by a digital voice-alert system, so care is never more than a few steps away.

Single patient rooms – personalized care

Cook Children's is one of only a handful of NICUs nationwide to provide single patient rooms. Our state-of-the-art NICU features 99 rooms and 106 beds to provide the full spectrum of specialized, intensive care services for newborns and infants.

What makes us even more unique is that our rooms are designed so that twins, triplets and quadruplets can stay together in one room. This reduces stress on you and your babies. And the accommodations in all of our rooms are designed for efficiency in a supportive environment.

Single patient room information

A complete network of care

In addition to the support that you'll receive in our NICU, you'll have the comfort of knowing that you're connected to a large children's health care network. Cook Children's offers primary care pediatricians, nationally and internationally recognized specialists, urgent care and home health services. There are also many support services, a health insurance program and more than 5,000 staff members, all focused on making sure your child receives the best possible care from birth to adulthood.

Our growing network of care

Choosing the right doctor

For many parents, a premature birth may mean that you didn't have time to choose a pediatrician. And for many NICU babies, both preterm and full term, follow up care may be necessary once they're able to go home. Having the right doctor is critical to your child's well-being and your peace of mind. Whether it's a pediatrician or a specialist, when it comes to your child's health, you'll want to choose a partner who'll be with you every inch of the way.

Choosing a pediatrician guide
Choosing a pediatric specialist guide
Find a Cook Children's Pediatrician
Find a Cook Children's specialist

We're here to help.

If you would like to schedule an appointment for a NICU tour, refer a patient or speak to our staff, please call our offices at 855-687-6428.