The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Driscoll Children's Hospital boasts a team of devoted, compassionate medical experts who specialize in delivering medical and surgical care to your premature baby and sick infants. We offer the finest treatment choices, essential information, and unwavering support to families.
Our NICU holds a prestigious Level 4 designation from the Texas Department of State Health Services, signifying the highest level of care for premature and critically ill infants. In 2017, we became the first NICU in South Texas to achieve this recognition, and we have remained committed to maintaining this exceptional standard of care ever since.
Our Level 4 NICU cares for a variety of premature and sick newborns and infants:
The NICU at Driscoll Children’s Hospital is licensed for 67 beds and is staffed by on-site neonatologists and neonatal nurse practitioners in the hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are also supported by a diverse team of pediatric subspecialists that your baby may need and they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as well. Additionally, we have a support staff of nurses, respiratory therapists, dietitians, pharmacists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, chaplains, social workers and more. All members of the team are specially trained to care for the tiniest and sickest of babies. Our team is also active in education, quality improvement initiatives, developmental care and research.
We are fortunate to possess a sizable and highly skilled team, complemented by state-of-the-art technology, dedicated to the care of all our newborns. Many hospitals within our referral area opt to transfer their infants to Driscoll Children's Hospital NICU to access the pinnacle of specialized care. Research has consistently shown that infants treated in hospitals with advanced-level NICUs experience improved outcomes, as they benefit from a comprehensive medical team and support staff.
Our team of neonatologists and 12 neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) are dedicated to the care of our babies. All of our neonatologists are board-certified in general pediatrics and neonatal-perinatal medicine and maintain current PALS and NRP certifications. Our neonatologists work closely with the medical team to coordinate the plan of care for each patient, provide education and support to our families, perform procedures, and provide education to pediatric residents, nurses and nurse practitioners. They collaborate closely with medical and ancillary teams for quality improvement initiative projects as we strive to achieve excellence in care for our babies.
The NNP is an advanced practice nurse (APRN) with a master’s degree specializing in sick newborn infants and at least two years experience as a bedside nurse in a level 3 (minimum) NICU. An NNP is prepared to practice across the continuum, providing primary, acute, chronic and critical care to neonates, infants and toddlers through age 2. NNPs’ level of care allows them to perform several duties, including but not limited to:
For more insight, please see the detailed descriptions of the team member positions below.
Chaplain – The Chaplain is a professionally trained team member who provides spiritual and emotional support to patients and their families throughout their stay at Driscoll Children’s Hospital. The Chaplain also provides pastoral care to staff members as needed and appropriate, including formally and informally.
Child life specialists – Child life specialists work with children and families in hospitals and other settings to help them cope with the challenges of hospitalization, illness and disability.
Dietitians – The neonatal dietitian is a vital participant in helping babies optimize their growth potential and developmental outcomes. The dietitians customize special feeding regimens for each baby, monitor growth and provide nutrition education to parents.
Discharge coordinator- The Discharge coordinator ensures a safe and successful transition from the Critical Care setting to home by providing families with the necessary education and helping to schedule outpatient appointments.
Lactation consultants – International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) function and contribute as members of the maternal-child health team. They possess the specialized skills and knowledge to assist infants and mothers with breastfeeding.
Neonatal nurse practitioners – A neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) is an advanced practice nurse who works closely with the neonatologist to ensure the highest level of care for all our babies in the NICU. Neonatal nurses – Neonatal nurses are specially trained nurses who care for babies with a variety of conditions, such as prematurity, infection, congenital defects or surgical conditions.
Neonatologists – The neonatologists at Driscoll Children’s Hospital NICU are highly trained to handle the sickest, tiniest and most complex babies.
Occupational, physical and speech therapists - Occupational therapists help children acquire and successfully perform activities of daily living in their environment. Physical therapists assist patients to develop, maintain and restore overall functional ability by improving gross motor skills, strength, balance and coordination. Speech therapists, or speech-language pathologists, help patients improve speech, language, voice, feeding and swallowing problems.
Pharmacists – The NICU clinical pharmacists have extensive training in medication therapy management for the unique NICU patients. Our pharmacists round daily with the multidisciplinary team and provide valuable insight to ensure the safety and stewardship of the use of all medications used in the NICU.
Respiratory therapists –Respiratory therapists provide 24-hour coverage in our newborn intensive care unit (NICU). Our NICU respiratory therapists manage any infant who is on high-flow nasal cannula, and mechanical ventilation (invasive or non-invasive), including conventional and high-frequency ventilation.
Social Workers – The role of a social worker in the NICU is to support our patients and their families throughout their NICU experience and assist them with a successful transition to home. The support involves assessing immediate circumstances, referral to community resources and agencies, assisting with lodging/transportation and providing emotional support.
Driscoll’s Critical Care Transport Team transfers more than 800 neonatal and pediatric patients every year to or from Driscoll Children’s Hospital including local, state, national and even international facilities. Our highly trained team consists of registered nurses, registered respiratory therapists, paramedics and/or emergency medical technicians. Our critical care transport team maintains real-time communication with the accepting physician during all transport. Driscoll’s patient- and family-centered care approach is committed to providing the highest standard of care to our patients and their families.
If your baby needs to be transferred to Driscoll Children’s Hospital, please contact our dispatch center toll-free at (800) 879-KIDS (5437).
Families are integral in the healing and recovery process of their babies. NICU does not have visiting hours. Our unit is open to families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we encourage families to spend as much time as possible with their babies. During this incredibly stressful period, we make every effort to alleviate families' anxieties and accommodate their home and work schedules. Our dedicated team not only provides support but also guides and empowers families to actively participate in the hands-on care of their babies.
Families are an important part of our medical team and are encouraged to ask questions and give feedback on their baby’s progress. We serve a wide area in South Texas and a lot of our families may not have the opportunity to be with their baby as often as they would like. AngelEye remote web cameras allow parents to view their babies from their electronic devices. We are also able to facilitate remote meetings between families, their doctors and medical staff.
Services provided by the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Driscoll Children’s Hospital include, but are not limited to:
Other coordinated services include, but are not limited to:
Meeting babies' special needs is at the heart of Developmental Care. The Level 4 NICU at Driscoll Children's Hospital helps babies feel comfortable and secure by using the following Developmental Care professionals and methods:
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