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Covenant's NICU is level III C, the highest rated NICU in the region, and the only one in Texas to offer special NICU equipment for triplets or quadruplets designed to allow the siblings to sleep in the same pod for sibling bonding and healthier babies. Opened in 2007, the newly renovated NICU offers 34 beds, five more beds than of previous NICU.

At Covenant Children's, we understand that sometimes being the parent of a baby in NICU can be overwhelming. That's why our NICU staff is always available to answer questions and listen to your concerns. When it comes to your baby's care, we want you to have as much information as possible.

NICU Staff

Our staff's top priority is the health and well-being of your baby. In order to provide your baby with the best care possible, the NICU is staffed with a team that is highly qualified and specializes in the care of neonates.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

The birth of a baby is a wonderful yet very complex process. Many physical and emotional changes occur for mother and baby. Your baby's body systems must work together in a new way. Sometimes, a baby has difficulty making the transition to the world. Being born prematurely, having a difficult delivery, or birth defects can make these changes more challenging. Fortunately for these babies, special newborn care is available.

What is the neonatal intensive care unit?

Newborn babies who need intensive medical attention are often admitted into a special area of the hospital called the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The NICU combines advanced technology and trained healthcare professionals to provide specialized care for the tiniest patients. NICUs may also have intermediate or continuing care areas for babies who are not as sick but do need specialized nursing care. Some hospitals do not have the personnel or a NICU and babies must be transferred to another hospital. Our Level III C NICU (the highest designation given to a NICU) provides care for the tiniest and most premature babies, and is the only hospital in the region qualified and experienced in providing care for babies born with birth defects that require surgical intervention.

Although about 9 percent of all newborn babies require care in a NICU, giving birth to a sick or premature baby can be quite unexpected for any parent. Unfamiliar sights, sounds, and equipment in the NICU can be overwhelming. This information is provided to help you understand some of the problems of sick and premature babies. You will also find out about some of the procedures that may be needed for the care of your baby.

Which babies need special care?

Most babies admitted to the NICU are premature (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), have low birthweight (less than 5.5 pounds), or have a medical condition that requires special care. In the US, nearly 12 percent of babies are born preterm, and many of these babies also have low birthweights. Twins, triplets, and other multiples often are admitted to the NICU, as they tend to be born earlier and smaller than single birth babies. Babies with medical conditions such as heart problems, infections, or birth defects are also cared for in the NICU.

The following are some factors that can place a baby at high risk and increase the chances of being admitted to the NICU. However, each baby must be evaluated individually to determine the need for admission. High-risk factors include the following:

Maternal Factors

  • age younger than 16 or older than 40 years
  • drug or alcohol exposure
  • diabetes
  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • bleeding
  • sexually transmitted diseases
  • multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, or more)
  • too little or too much amniotic fluid
  • premature rupture of membranes (also called the amniotic sac or bag of waters)

Delivery Factors

  • fetal distress/birth asphyxia (changes in organ systems due to lack of oxygen)
  • breech delivery presentation (buttocks delivered first) or other abnormal presentation
  • meconium (the baby's first stool passed during pregnancy into the amniotic fluid)
  • nuchal cord (cord around the baby's neck)
  • forceps or cesarean delivery

Baby Factors

  • birth at gestational age less than 37 weeks or more than 42 weeks
  • birthweight less than 2,500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces) or over 4,000 grams (8 pounds, 13 ounces)
  • small for gestational age
  • medication or resuscitation in the delivery room
  • birth defects
  • respiratory distress including rapid breathing, grunting, or apnea (stopping breathing)
  • infection such as herpes, group B streptococcus, chlamydia
  • seizures
  • hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • need for extra oxygen or monitoring, intravenous (IV) therapy, or medications
  • need for special treatment or procedures such as a blood transfusion

Who will care for your baby in the NICU?

Our team of three neonatologists offers over 30 years experience providing care for the sickest babies in the region. Our staff nurses are specialized in providing care for the smallest and most fragile babies. Occupational therapists, dieticians, lactation consultants, pharmacists, social workers, and chaplains are also part of our exceptional care team!

Some of the services we offer:

  • Care of babies as small as 500 grams (less than 1 pound)
  • Licensed neonatal transport team that can transport any baby, any time
  • Oscillators and Jet Ventilators
  • Nitric Oxide Therapy
  • Full Surgical Services including Cardiothoracic (heart) Surgery **link to ISOM Heart Center
  • Complete imaging services including MRI
  • Extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

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Family & Special Services

  • Speech and Hearing Specialist
  • Chaplain and Spiritual Care
  • PT/ OT Services/ Car Seat Safety Classes
  • Parent Educator;/ CPR Classes
  • Family Centered Care & Child Life Specialist for Sibling Visitation
  • Minimal Stimulation Rooms

NICU Specialty Transport Program

The Covenant Children's Hospital Neonatal Transport Team consists of neonatal nurses and respiratory therapist specially trained in stabilization of acutely ill and premature newborns. We have 20 team members RNs, RTs and three neonatologists that work with Aerocare Flight Service and Covenant Children's Ground Emergency Service, to provide the fastest and safest transfer for newborns in our region. We provide service to the South Plains and Eastern New Mexico. Our transport vehicles include a King Air 200 Airplane, an American Eurocopter 145 and three ambulances. Each of our highly trained team members are dedicated to treating and caring for these sick infants immediately upon arrival at your location.

How Can We Be Reached?

NICU : 1-877-268-6428 or 1-806-725-6474
"At Your Service" Ground Ambulance: 1-806-725-2255
Aerocare/Med-Trans Flight and Transfer Center: 1-888-987-2862

What is the Procedure for Transport?

Request for a transport is made by calling any of the numbers above. A neonatologist is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for referrals and consultations. Once the decision is made to transport an infant to our NICU, the transport team will be dispatched within minutes. When we arrive our team works with the doctors and staff of the referring hospital to stabilize and care for each infant and provide safe and efficient transport to Covenant Children's Hospital NICU.

We are a 38 bed Level 3 NICU. We have a staff of over 80 RN's, RT's, PT/OT, Pharmacist and three Neonatologists that are specially trained to care for the tiniest patients. All of the Pediatric Sub-Specialist at Covenant Children's Hospital are available for consultation on infants in the NICU. Our staff works around the clock to provide the most advanced evidenced based care in neonatal medicine. This includes equipment and procedures designed for premature and sick newborns.

What is needed from the Referring Facility?

  • The mother's medical records and prenatal visits
  • The newborn's medical records, x-rays and labs
  • Face Sheet
  • Memorandum of transfer
  • Mother's Cord Blood
  • Consent to Transfer, Treat and Transport from parents
  • Parent's Contact
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