Redesigned NICU Gives Families more Privacy

When CHKD opened the region’s first neonatal intensive care unit in 1972, the tiny babies shared a 20-bed unit in a single large room with older children who also needed intensive care.

Over the years, the NICU gained its own space, adding more beds and more sophisticated technology, making it the highest level NICU in the region. In pods of six to nine babies, we cared for the tiniest and sickest infants.

Today, our NICU consists of 50 private rooms, plus 10 rooms with two beds each, allowing private space for parents to bond with their babies and to rest during visits. Glass doors and the latest technology in monitors allow NICU staff to easily see how babies are doing and provide the latest in treatments.

We care for 500 to 600 babies a year, with an average length of stay of 41 days. The tiniest patients, those weighing less than 2.3 pounds, stay an average of 87 days.

The renovated unit has a whimsical oak tree in the lobby, with a squirrel peeking out from a knothole. A family lounge area includes a kitchen and a store where parents can “buy” books and clothing with “NICU bucks” they earn by attending classes that prepare them to take their babies home.

Why Babies Come to CHKD

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at CHKD is the region's largest and most sophisticated critical care facility for newborns.

Newborn babies who need intensive medical attention are admitted to CHKD's NICU every year from hospitals throughout southeastern Virginia, the Eastern Shore, and northeastern North Carolina. Most are born prematurely - some as early as 23 weeks gestation. Others suffer from severe heart and lung conditions or birth defects that require early surgical intervention.

Read: The NICU Parents Guide

Specialized Care for the Tiniest Patients

The NICU combines advanced technology and trained healthcare professionals to provide specialized care for the tiniest patients. CHKD knows from experience that parents often feel anxious when their babies are admitted to the NICU, and we do all we can to help you during this stressful time. The unfamiliar sights, sounds, and equipment can be overwhelming, so every parent receives a resource guide filled with information to help families navigate the NICU.

Teamwork at Every Turn

Additional information to help you understand your child’s condition, possible treatments and how you can be involved will come from one-on-one discussions with nurses, doctors and through participation in daily rounds with the your baby's medical team. This team works with parents to develop a plan of care for high-risk newborns. We encourage your active involvement in your baby’s care, and welcome parents to spend time with their babies at any hour of the day or night.