Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at CHKD is the region’s largest and most sophisticated critical care facility for newborns, admitting approximately 700 babies every year. Our 72-bed level IV, or sub-specialty, NICU meets Virginia’s stringent standards for the highest level of care.

Our multi-disciplinary team of skilled professionals provides family-centered care to their special patients and families, who are often urgently transported and admitted to CHKD from local delivery rooms or newborn nurseries. About half of our patients are born in the adjacent Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, and then rapidly and almost seamlessly admitted to our unit.

The most common reason for admission to the NICU is prematurity, but the unit has a large population of babies who require other treatments, such as:

Ventilatory support. This may include conventional or high-frequency ventilation, and non-invasive modalities such as CAPA or SiPAP, nitric oxide or administration of surfactant. Working alongside board-certified neonatologists, experienced neonatal nurse practitioners and specially trained respiratory therapists, NICU nurses competently provide bedside care to these patients, carefully monitoring and detecting even the smallest changes in the health of their patients.

Total body cooling. CHKD participated in the initial research on hypothermia as a treatment for term infants asphyxiated at birth. The nurses’ role is vital in the care of these infants during the cooling and rewarming process.

Special procedures to support multi-system failure. CHKD has all the specialists on staff for constant evaluations and consults. Our state-of-the art hospital also has all the necessary diagnostic technology required for advanced pro-active treatment.

Pre- and post-operative surgical care. All subspecialty surgical professionals practice at CHKD and provide rapid diagnosis and intervention as needed.

Care of the ELBW (extremely low birth weight under 750 grams). CHKD has the largest number of ELBW admissions among all freestanding children’s hospitals in the country. These patients require specialized nursing care, including thermoregulation, monitoring and ongoing care. With the thorough training and education our NICU nurses receive, our littlest patients receive the expert care they need to thrive.

Research, evidence-based practice and publications. The CHKD NICU is active in coordinating neonatal evidence-based practice projects, as well as medical and nursing research. Current projects include brain-temperature monitoring, skin care, and intraventricular hemorrhage prevention. The nursing staff is an integral part of this research. Many of our staff members have presented at national conferences.

Our NICU nurses always strive to bring their sensitive, responsive and flexible skills to work every day. Despite the challenges a critical care unit presents, with the ever-changing status of these fragile patients, our nurses are committed to ensuring competent nursing care around the clock. Collaborating with other professionals, such as speech and occupational therapists, lactation consultants, social workers and case managers, brings a unique perspective to patient care. Also, parent and family involvement and education are prioritized at all times.

All nurses joining our team receive an individualized, skill-based orientation, overseen by clinical nurse specialists, experienced education coordinators, and insightful preceptors. Ongoing classes, certification opportunities, and in-services are made available to enrich and educate the nursing staff. The leadership team offers open communication channels and expert role-modeling.

Consider making our NICU your work home, and you’ll be on your way to an amazing and fulfilling career.