The Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Community Medical Center is recognized throughout the region for its excellent approach to top-quality care. But more important, it’s touched the lives of thousands of families in Montana and Idaho since it opened in 1976. Parents regularly thank the NICU staff and physicians for the exemplary care given to their infants and also for the special attention given to their families.
A 16-bed Levell III unit, the NICU is run by a Group of medical experts working as a team, providing a full range of care for infants born sick or premature. The unit is staffed with two neonatologists and a veteran nursing staff, the majority of whom are specially certified in Neonatal Intensive Care. Other parts of the team are specially trained dietitians, pharmacists, respiratory therapists and physical therapists.
The NICU provides not only advanced technology care but conventional and oscillatory ventilation and nitric oxide therapy, as well. CMC is a member of the Vermont-Oxford Network, an international database for neonates with birth weights of less than 1,500 grams. The hospital often shares its morbidity and mortality statistics, as they are exceptional at both the state and national levels.
Along with its reputation for providing top-notch care, the NICU also prides itself on its more personal, “soft touch” approach to care; the NICU provides family-centered care. An emphasis is placed on developmental practices such as nesting and kangaroo care. The unit’s visitation policy also encourages parents to be with their babies as much as possible. CMC continues to care for families after an infant is discharged through the NICU Follow-up clinic, a specialty clinic that’s free to families. Also available to families are perinatal social workers and a bereavement program with an annual memorial service. Rooming-in is provided for moms whoa are ready to take their growing premature babies home.
In the past, CMC has hosted an NICU reunion party for its graduates, some of whom are as old as 18. Their joining in the celebration is a testament to the powerful impact the NICU has had on families.