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More critically ill babies can stay at Rex NICU

Posted October 28, 2015
Updated October 29, 2015

Courtesy: UNC Rex Healthcare.
Credit: Brian Strickland

UNC Rex Healthcare's neonatal intensive care unit has a new designation that will mean more sick babies can stay at the hospital instead of being transferred.

Rex's NICU in Raleigh has been granted a Level IV designation, allowing its neonatologists, nurses, respiratory therapists, developmental care team and others to care for more premature and medically fragile babies, according to the hospital.

With the new designation, the NICU can now care for babies that are born at 28 weeks of gestation and above. The hospital had previously been designated a Level III, allowing the hospital to care for babies born at about 30 weeks of gestation and above. Earlier babies would be transferred to North Carolina Children's Hospital at UNC-Chapel Hill or WakeMed's Level IV NICU for care. The 15-bed NICU at Rex opened in 1973 and cares for hundreds of babies each year.

"This means that the same quality, intensive care that we have been providing, will now be available to a wider range of babies," said Dr. Marie Ambroise Thigpen, medical director of Rex Neonatology. "We continue to stabilize all sick babies and evaluate them for transfer if needed. This definitely means that more babies can stay at Rex, close to their families."

Rex also will continue its collaborative relationship with UNC and its specialists at UNC's Newborn Critical Care Center at the children's hospital. Families will be able to take advantage of UNC's support services. When a transfer is required, UNC also can transport the baby to Chapel Hill.

In addition to medical care, Rex offers support for parents and families of critically ill little ones. They include a UNC Rex Family Advisory Council, which helps parents of infants who require more than routine medical care.

"The team takes care of the whole family by the support that we provide," Dr. Thigpen said. "We include parents on rounds so they can hear the plan for the day from the team, as well as ask questions. We involve them as much as possible in their child’s day-to-day care."

Dr. Thigpen said her team also has expanded its developmental care program with new developmental and feeding specialists, along with infant physical therapists, who meet with families to assess and support babies’ developmental needs.

The NICU is at the Rex Women's Center at 4420 Lake Boone Trail, Raleigh.


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