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NICU

The neonatal intensive care unit provides critical care to newborns who are ill or premature. Many factors may lead to a newborn being admitted to the NICU, including low birth weight or complications during delivery. The NICU staff works closely with parents to develop a treatment plan for their newborn.

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Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Fort Pierce, Florida

When your baby needs extra care following birth, the Level III NICU at HCA Florida Lawnwood Hospital is here for you.

Our 15-bed NICU is staffed by highly trained, compassionate clinicians, ensuring your new baby has access to complete neonatal services. Each member of our team will work together to make sure your baby receives the individualized attention and support they need during this time.

Level III NICU features

Our NICU features:

  • 24-hour coverage by a respiratory therapist with Level III NICU experience
  • 24-hour coverage by neonatologists and nationally certified neonatal nurse practitioners
  • A central nurse station to monitor infants
  • A specially trained neonatal transport team available 24/7 to move critically ill infants by helicopter or ambulance to our NICU from other regional hospitals
  • A bereavement committee with registered nurses certified in grief counseling
  • Support from the area's only full-time perinatology services
  • Certified lactation consultants
  • Controlled access to the unit monitored by video cameras
  • Developmental care specialists
  • Long-term nutritional support with total parenteral nutrition
  • Neonatal speech therapists with specialized training in infant feeding
  • Nitric oxide capabilities for persistent pulmonary hypertension
  • Pediatric subspecialty consultations available for pediatric ophthalmology, neurology and ear, nose and throat (ENT)
  • Preoperative and postoperative stabilization
  • Technology to reduce noise on the unit and notify nurses of changes in a baby’s vital signs
  • Telecommunication consultations for pediatric echocardiography, genetics, radiology and infectious disease
  • Three types of neonatal ventilators for respiratory difficulties

Care for preterm and full-term newborns

Our NICU is fully equipped to treat an array of conditions affecting newborns, but the care an infant needs varies greatly depending on the time of delivery.

23 to 26 weeks

Infants born at this gestation weigh about one to two pounds or less. They need significant support at the time of delivery because their organs are very immature. The skin is very thin and can be bruised easily, and their lungs are not developed.

At birth, the baby may have a weak but audible cry and require the immediate insertion of a breathing tube and support with a ventilator. These infants benefit greatly from artificial surfactant (a liquid needed for breathing), which helps prevent the fragile air sacs from collapsing.

27 to 29 weeks

Infants born at 27 to 29 weeks weigh an average of two to four pounds. Their skin is thin, and they have very little fat. They may need ventilator support and may receive artificial surfactant to help their lungs mature more quickly.

Intravenous nutrition is important for several weeks as these infants gradually adjust to increasing volumes of breast milk or formula through tube feedings. It can take a month or more for these newborns to mature enough to try breast or bottle feedings.

30 to 33 weeks

Infants between 30 and 33 weeks of gestational age are born seven to 10 weeks early. These infants weigh roughly two to four pounds and need monitoring in an intensive care environment.

Often, these infants need help breathing, which may be in the form of a breathing machine, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or oxygen by nasal cannula. A tiny feeding tube may also be inserted in their nose or mouth to help them receive nutrition until they're mature enough for breastfeeding.

34 to 36 weeks

Infants born four to six weeks early typically weigh between four and seven pounds. Many of these infants experience little difficulty after birth, but others have significant problems with maintaining normal blood sugar levels or learning how to eat.

Some of these newborns require a breathing machine, an incubator or oxygen delivered via an oxygen hood or nasal cannula.

37 to 42 weeks

Full-term infants may need intensive care for problems related to:

  • Birth defects
  • Complications during childbirth
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Infections, such as pneumonia
  • Maternal diabetes

Ongoing care for infants

When your infant is ready to leave the NICU, we can help you transition to other levels of care at our hospital. Our pediatric services ensure your child receives excellent nursing care, and we’ll help you with things like teaching strategies and vaccination scheduling before you leave.

Our NICU team

Our designation as a Level III NICU means we can treat most conditions without having to transfer your baby to another facility. Since the NICU is in our Birthing Center, mothers and their newborns can immediately transition from labor and delivery to intensive care, when it's needed.

To provide the best possible care for newborns in our NICU, we rely on expertise from an array of medical professionals, including:

  • Board-certified, fellowship-trained neonatologists
  • Lactation consultants
  • Neonatal nurse practitioners
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Registered nurses
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Social workers
  • Speech therapists
  • Technicians