Neonatology

About Our NICU

The Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is dedicated to infants who need the highest level of care. Our NICU has a Level IV designation from the American Academy of Pediatrics—the highest level available. This 97-bed unit offers the most advanced life-support and monitoring technology for premature and critically ill infants. The NICU is run by a team of experienced neonatologists and other specialists who provide expert care for the most challenging cases.

Our NICU is also proud to operate and provide supportive services to the regional hospital NICUs within its care network, including Bayfront Health Port Charlotte, Bayfront Health Spring Hill, Brandon Regional Hospital, Florida Hospital North Pinellas, Florida Hospital Tampa, Medical Center of Trinity, Oak Hill Hospital, St. Petersburg General Hospital and Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

What to Expect

Parents are encouraged to play an active role while their baby is in the NICU and are allowed to stay with their baby 24 hours a day.

“Hands-on” time is when doctors or nurses are physically touching and assessing your baby. Parents visiting during hands-on time are encouraged to participate in the care of their baby. This includes taking baby’s temperature, changing diapers and helping with feedings. Once the baby is medically stable, we advocate for parents to participate in Kangaroo Mother Care.

Infants in the NICU are assigned to one of three patient care teams. Every morning, your infant’s care team will complete morning rounds at the bedside, discussing your infant’s condition and any changes to the care plan. Our care plan is family-centered, meaning parents and caregivers are encouraged to spend as much time as possible in their infant’s room and participate in discussions and ask questions. If you are not available, your doctor or nurse practitioner will reach you by phone to update you and answer your questions.

Family meetings may be scheduled outside of “morning rounds” to discuss your infant’s progress and are periodically scheduled with other specialists who may be involved in your infant’s care.

In the NICU, parents and family members are welcome to use our family education and waiting rooms, which are equipped with computers and televisions. We also offer several classes and activities to support our families during their baby's stay in the NICU.

If a NICU admission is anticipated before birth, our neonatologists are available for prenatal consultations, and tours of our facility are available. For information, please call 727-767-4313. 

Your Baby’s Care Team  

Our NICU is staffed by neonatologists and neonatal hospitalists specially trained to care for premature and full-term infants. They lead the care team and are committed to providing the highest level of quality and family-centered care. Our medical team also includes resident physicians and neonatal fellows who may be closely involved in your baby’s daily care. We also believe parents are an important part of the infant's care team and encourage all parents and caregivers to participate in discussions and hands-on care. Other specialists include:  

  • Developmental specialists support and reinforce parental strengths, emerging parental competencies and positive parent-infant relationships by providing information and guidance on infant development, the attachment process and mediating stress in the NICU environment.
  • Licensed clinical social workers meet with every family to identify psycho-social stressors of having a baby in the NICU. They provide supportive counseling and assist families with resources. They also screen families for Ronald McDonald House, arrange parent conferences and assist with discharge planning.
  • Milk technicians prepare breast milk and special infant formulas. They also staff the Milk Depot.  Neonatal developmental care specialists provide relationship-focused, individualized interactions with infants and their parents that enhance and support the infant’s emotional, social and cognitive developmental growth.
  • NICU child life specialists provide emotional support, education and resources for caregivers. They also support siblings by providing preparation for visits, education and therapeutic play activities, and help support your baby by providing procedural support, positive touch and developmentally-supportive play.
  • NICU lactation consultant specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding and performs comprehensive lactation assessments of the mother and baby to develop and implement an individualized care plan. The lactation consultant provides information, support and encouragement to enable mothers to successfully meet their breastfeeding goals.
  • NICU psychologists specialize in early childhood development and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and provide intervention and assessment. Areas of expertise include early childhood trauma, infant neurodevelopment during hospitalization, developmental outcomes of high-risk infants, parent-child attachment and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
  • Nurses
  • Nurse case manager is the nurse assigned to your baby.
  • Nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who care for premature and sick newborns in collaboration with the neonatologist. They assume total responsibility for their patients exercising judgment when necessary to assess, diagnose and initiate medical procedures.
  • Nutritionists closely monitor your baby, including what baby eats, when baby eats and how it affects the body and growth. Sometimes the baby’s body cannot process nutrients and must be fed through an IV. Other times formula isn’t supplying enough of the vital nutrients the baby needs to grow stronger. A NICU nutritionist works hand-in-hand with doctors and nurse practitioners to ensure your baby has the nutrition needed to grow and develop.
  • Occupational therapists work with infant feeding and movement issues.
  • Patient care technicians assist in performing patient care related activities, such as collecting vital signs and providing feedings, as determined by the RN and care team.
  • Patient experience navigator is a neutral liaison between the patients/families and the health care system. They are here to listen, be supportive and help facilitate any communications and concerns families may have. They also help support a positive patient experience and assist families to navigate through the health care system.
  • Speech-language pathologists help children learn to talk and eat/feed. They examine the infant’s mouth and throat and their ability to stay awake, alert and engaged for feedings. They also work with the baby and family to determine the best bottle, position and feeding techniques. A care plan and bedside sign will be created to make sure everyone knows the techniques that work best for the baby.

Advanced Treatments Available  

Babies born prematurely need monitoring and treatment to ensure their lungs, hearts and other organs work properly. For these infants and those born with birth defects or other complications, the right equipment combined with the right therapy at the right time can make all the difference in helping them get healthy.

We provide treatment for a wide variety of pediatric medical conditions, using the latest technology and advanced therapies, including:  

  • Breast milk analyzer, allows doctors to test breast milk for protein, fat, lactose and overall caloric content to determine if supplementation is needed for our tiniest patients    
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy, a treatment used to strengthen baby’s heart and lungs, allowing them to regain strength, often in preparation for surgery 
  • Feeding tubes, help deliver formula or breast milk if an infant is unable to bottle or breast feed  
  • Fetal monitors, used to constantly monitor your baby’s vital signs  
  • Nitric oxide, helps babies with persistent pulmonary hypertension breathe easier by opening blood vessels in the lungs   
  • Phototherapy, used to treat jaundice (a common condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow). Special light therapy blankets may also be used 
  • State-of-the-art incubators, to keep the tiniest premature infants safe and warm  
  • Total body cooling system, used to treat babies deprived of blood or oxygen during birth and protect the brain from further injury  
  • Pea Pod infant body composition system, measures the body composition of infants and helps optimize nutrition for premature babies 
 

The Breast Milk Depot

Our NICU maintains a Breast Milk Depot for the storage, processing and distribution of mother's own breast milk for each infant. In addition, donor breast milk is available for our most premature infants.
 
NICU Visitor Policy 
In order to maintain a safe, secure and clean environment for our tiniest patients, each visitor must perform a 30-second handwashing whenever he or she enters the NICU.  All visitors must show a photo ID and sign in at the main desk at each visit. 
 
Parents may designate up to four additional visitors who may visit their baby. Once listed, for the security of patients, these visitors may not change or be substituted. We allow for up to two visitors at a time in the private rooms and two visitors in the admission area. Guests visiting hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and 7-9 p.m. daily. 
 
For infection control purposes, no food is permitted inside the NICU. You may have a covered cup or bottle at the bedside.