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Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

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NICU

In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital (BMSCH), critically ill newborn babies receive advanced, multidisciplinary, comprehensive care from New Jersey’s leading experts. Our NICU’s outcomes consistently exceed regional and national benchmarks for excellence.

Babies in the NICU need intense monitoring. At BMSCH, our expert team of physicians, respiratory therapists and registered nurses trained in neonatal critical care are available on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are designated as a Level IV NICU, the highest level of neonatal care according to standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Advantages of Treatment at Our Leading Academic Medical Center

BMSCH is part of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. In partnership with Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS), our institution is one of the premier academic medical centers in the United States and an innovator in clinical care. Our doctors participate in cutting-edge research, evidence-based practice, and we are the only academic institution in New Jersey to offer a neonatal/perinatal fellowship.

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NICU physicians and staff work closely with our surgical colleagues in pediatric surgery and neurosurgery; as well as our pediatric sub-specialists in pulmonology, cardiology, genetic counseling and genetic testing, gastroenterology, otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat/ENT) and more to provide comprehensive critical care. With skilled medical supervision and integrated coordination of care, our NICU has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in New Jersey.

Rapid Genetic Testing for Critically Ill Infants

Whole genome sequencing (or sequencing of all the genetic material of a person) can identify the root cause of rare genetic disorders and diseases in some of the sickest infants by a simple blood test.

Through a collaboration between Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine (RCIGM), we offer rapid Whole Genome Sequencing (rWGS) to help diagnose unexplained medical conditions in newborns and infants who need immediate intervention.

In most medically urgent cases, RCIGM delivers preliminary diagnoses in as little as 3 business days compared to standard testing that can take 4 to 6 weeks or more. Doctors can then provide a precise diagnosis and administer targeted, sometimes lifesaving care at a time when the therapeutic window is often very small.

Learn more about pediatric genetic testing.

Family-Centered Care

Having a premature infant or one with medical complications that require the special services of a NICU can feel like an emotional roller coaster to new parents and their families. At BMSCH, our philosophy of family-centered care means we care not only for the complicated medical needs of a fragile newborn, but also the emotional needs of the parents. Learn more about family-centered care at BMSCH.

The Child Life team in the NICU is here to support you and your family through the NICU course of your baby. Child Life programming includes:

  • Information on sibling coping
  • Meeting with siblings to teach them about what to expect when they visit the NICU
  • Ongoing support to siblings while the baby is in the hospital
  • Bravery Bead Program in which parents collect beads that tell the story of their NICU experience
  • Monthly “Meet and Greet” activities (lunches, scrapbooking)
  • Instruction on infant massage techniques
  • Developmental support for NICU babies

Parent Education

We offer personalized parenting education classes to help you learn about your role as a parent in caring for your baby. Lactation consultants are also available seven days a week to advise you about breastfeeding techniques. Upon discharge, you will receive educational materials about parenting and preventive care, including important information from the Rutgers Health SIDS Center of New Jersey.

Before you take your infant home, you can spend the night in our transition room, a place that is completely equipped for special infant care and comforts, and practice how to care for your baby before you leave the hospital. The goal is to give you confidence and alleviate some anxiety about the transition to home.

Complex Conditions We Treat

  • Extreme prematurity
  • Respiratory disease requiring high-frequency ventilation, nitric oxide or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
  • Congenital and pathologic conditions requiring pediatric subspecialty support or pediatric surgery support
    • Congenital diaphragmatic hernias
    • Hydrocephalous
    • Arteriovenous malformations (AVM)
    • Neonatal stroke
    • Neural tube defects
    • Omphalocele and gastroschisis
    • Tracheoesophageal fistulas
  • Hypoxic brain birth injuries (when a baby’s brain fails to receive enough oxygen) which require therapeutic hypothermia, or cooling therapy
  • Retinopathy of prematurity (when disease has damaged the back of the eye) requiring pediatric ophthalmology evaluation and management

The NICU has the ability to care for infants requiring airborne infection isolation, also known as negative pressure isolation.

We work closely with the neurology department to manage neonatal seizure disorders, and have a comprehensive program for babies exposed to addictive drugs in the womb that includes acute management, convalescent care and post discharge developmental care with our partners at Children’s Specialized Hospital. We provide specially trained infant cuddlers for infants with neonatal withdrawal from drugs of addiction.

NOTE: Out of an abundance of caution due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the infant cuddler program has been suspended until further notice.

Special Programs and Services

  • Pediatric transport service from another medical facility can be arranged via a specialized mobile neonatal intensive care unit
  • The NICView camera system allows parents to view infants in real time via a secure web portal 24/7
  • We offer body cooling (therapeutic hypothermia) for neuroprotection
  • The Extracorporeal Life Support Program provides extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), in which a machine circulates the blood outside the body to enable the heart or lungs to rest
  • Post-discharge neonatal rehabilitation program in partnership with Children’s Specialized Hospital
  • Neonatal dietitian and nutrition program
  • Neonatal speech pathologist

NICU Amenities

From crib-side rocking chairs and scrapbooking projects to pumping rooms and freezers, the NICU environment and our staff provide the support parents need. Parents are free to visit any time. We have changing rooms and secure lockers for your belongings.

Need a break? The NICU has two private lounges for parents. One of them is a spacious room where all family members can gather for support or simply to have a meal and watch television. The second, smaller lounge is a quiet area for parents, with ports and a computer desk. Free WiFi is available. Additional computers and quiet space are located in the hospital’s Family Resource Center.

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Patient Stories

  • “The recovery was pretty challenging. But in my head, I was like, ‘I need to do this if I still want to play football in college.’ So I pushed through it, and in the end, it all came out amazing.”

    Hunter
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  • “I feel amazing. I can move. I can do so much more physical activity without feeling pain.”

    Cheyanne
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  • A 10-year-old girl collides with a bike, leading to emergency brain surgery.

    Elli
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Patient Stories

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