Frequently Asked Questions
The following are the most frequently asked questions about Cook Children's neonatal program and NICU. Of course, if you don't find the answer you need here, please feel free to contact us with your specific questions at 855-OUR-NICU (855-687-6428).
Q: What if I want to transfer my baby to Cook Children's?
A: First, contact your insurance company. Because every company is different, having written approval from your insurance company before the transfer ensures everything will be covered by your policy. Your physician makes the referral and remains a part of the treatment process so it is also important to discuss the process with him/her. Ultimately, it is your decision on where your newborn is treated, but beginning with these steps allows for a smoother process.
Q: What's the smallest baby Cook Children's has cared for?
A: Cook Children's neonatal specialists have been caring for the tiniest preemies for more than 35 years. In fact, our NICU has admitted babies weighing less than 14 ounces. These are sometimes referred to as micropreemies. We built the all-single room NICU because studies show that premature babies cared for in a single room setting have better long-term outcomes. The environment, including lighting and sound, can be individually controlled. Also, parents have better access and more involvement in their preemie's care. Preemies, critically ill and medically fragile babies are shown to grow better, get more oxygen and go home quicker. It's more than a single room, it's individualized care.
Q: If we're in a single room, how will my baby be monitored?
A: Our unit is among a few in the nation that uses an integrated monitoring system. This system links your baby's cardiac monitor to a communication device worn by the nurse and the nurse call system. The nurse can monitor your baby from anywhere in the unit and will get an alarm notification directly to their communication device. We also have a central monitoring station at each of the charge nurses' desks.
Q: Why is a single room better for patient privacy and safety?
A: Families in the NICU unit can spend more intimate time with their baby. In a single room, parents can carry on conversations with doctors, caregivers, and each other. In addition, your confidentiality is more protected. single rooms also offer:
- More one-to-one opportunities for teaching parents how to care for their baby's unique needs, with fewer interruptions.
- A better setting for breastfeeding, skin-to-skin care and breast pumping since it is in your room with your baby.
- Medications and patient supplies are delivered directly to your baby's room, providing a higher level of service.
Q: How can I participate in my baby's care?
A: As a parent in the NICU, you are not a visitor. You are a partner in care and the most important member of your baby's health care team. Our goal is to include you in the care of your baby as much as possible. We encourage you to ask questions and stay as long as you want. We encourage you to be present during shift change report because we value your input during the process. You know your baby better than anyone else.
Q: How do you support breast feeding?
A: Because research shows that breast feeding helps improve babies' health and helps moms bond with their little ones. Cook Children's has full-time lactation specialists on staff to assist mothers with pumping and breastfeeding. We offer breast pumps in every room and have an on-site milk bank available for safety and storage. There are numerous resources available through lactation services for moms that are having difficulty with nursing/pumping. While other nurses are focusing on the baby's care, the lactation consultant can provide extra attention to mom.
Q: What other support do you offer to families in the NICU?
A: Cook Children's wants you to know that you are not alone. We offer several support programs to help you connect with other families who are going through the same experience. We have something for the whole family, from sibling-focused activities, scrapbooking, an annual NICU reunion and parenting classes. There are many opportunities to receive support during and after your stay in our NICU.
Q: What specialized services and staff does your neonatal program have?
A: Infants and newborns in our Level IV NICU receive around-the-clock care from neonatologist and neonatal nurse practitioners along with doctors and other health care professionals from a variety of medical specialties such as Pulmonology, Neurology, Pediatric Surgery, Endocrinology, Infections Disease and Cardiology. Your NICU care team may also include social workers, child life specialists, therapists, including physical, occupational and speech therapists that specialize in the care babies and premature infants. We also have dedicated teams of registered dietitians and doctors of pharmacy. We are one of the few hospitals in the nation to offer such specialized care as hyperinsulinism, ECMO (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation, and therapeutic hypothermia, among others.
Q: What are the different "levels of care" and what do they mean?
The American Academy of Pediatrics defines four levels of neonatal care:
- Level I (well newborn nursery)
Pediatricians, family doctors and advanced practice nurses stabilize and provide care for low-risk newborns who are born as early as 35 weeks' gestation, and are prepared to stabilize sick newborns for transfer to a higher-level NICU.
- Level II (special care nursery)
A Level II special care nursery must have the same capabilities as a Level I nursery, and more. Pediatric hospitalists (pediatricians working primarily, or only, in hospitals), neonatologists and neonatal nurse practitioners must be able to care for infants born as early as 32 weeks' gestation; to provide care for infants recovering after intensive care; to provide brief mechanical ventilation or continuous positive airway pressure, or both; and, sometimes, to provide intravenous nutrition for babies not yet able to feed.
- Level III (NICU)
A Level III NICU must have all of the Level II capabilities, and more. It must have quick access to a full range of pediatric medical subspecialists, pediatric surgical subspecialists, pediatric anesthesiologists and pediatric ophthalmologists. A Level III NICU must be able to provide sustained life support, sustained respiratory (breathing) support and advanced imaging, with interpretation on an urgent basis. In addition, it must either be able to provide surgery for common complications of prematurity and common birth defects or have an affiliation with a Level IV NICU.
- Level IV (regional NICU)
A Level IV NICU, such as Cook Children's, must have all of the Level III capabilities, and more. It must be located within a hospital that can provide surgery for complex conditions that are present at birth or that develop soon after delivery. A full range of pediatric medical subspecialists, pediatric surgical subspecialists and pediatric anesthesiologists must be available on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Level IV NICUs must also facilitate patient transport and provide outreach education to other providers.
- Level I (well newborn nursery)
We're here to help.
If you are interested in scheduling a tour of our NICU, please call 682-885-4375. You can find information on how to refer a patient or other NICU contact information here.