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Neonatal Intensive Care

Caring for a newborn can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first baby. That transition to parenthood is even more challenging when your child is born early or has health issues. We have a fully equipped neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) designated as a Level III and staffed by experts in every role. A Level III facility:

  • Is for babies born prematurely or for babies born with a critical illness
  • Provides subspecialty newborn care, meaning we offer access to a full range of pediatric medical subspecialties
  • Offers respiratory support and advanced imaging

Take the NICU virtual tour

Involving You in Your Child’s Care

Being a parent with a baby in the NICU is tough. It’s hard to bond with your new baby when the little one must be cared for in the hospital. You’re overwhelmed by emotions – sadness, anger, helplessness, fear, even guilt. Please don’t hesitate to ask us for help. Our nurses, social workers, chaplains, and neonatologists are available to provide information and offer support.

As soon as your little one is well enough, you will get to hold them in your arms. Our nurses will teach you how to change diapers, bathe, dress and feed your baby. Even if you can’t hold your baby right away, there are many things you can do that can help the baby, and make you and your family feel better. Mom can provide breast milk and both parents can talk and sing softly to the baby and gently touch or cradle them. Some parents like to place pictured of family members in the crib. Siblings may enjoy drawing a picture or bringing a baby blanket for their new brother or sister. Your baby may not be able to wear clothes right away because of IVs and other equipment. The nurse can tell you when your baby will be ready for clothes but feel free to bring onesies, a nightgown, booties, and hats to keep in the isolette drawer until your baby can be dressed.

Our NICU Staff

The Community Memorial NICU has the specially trained physicians and staff and all the technology needed to ensure that your baby receives the highest level of care.

Our NICU staff is experienced, specially trained, and has been working together for a long time. They do all they can to make you feel welcome, supportive, and confident in the care they are giving your newborn.

  • Neonatologists: Fellowship-trained in the medical care of premature and sick babies, these physicians oversee your baby’s care. We have an expert neonatologist on-call in the NICU, 24/7.
  • Registered Nurses (RNs): NICU nurses receive several months of intensive classroom and hands-on training in the care of premature and sick babies. They will explain procedures to you and teach you how to take care of your little one.
  • Respiratory Therapists (RTs): These medical technicians are trained to take care of any breathing equipment your baby may need.
  • Utilization Review (UR) Nurse /Case Manager: If you are having insurance issues or need help qualifying for state funding, our UR nurse is here to help.
  • Occupational Therapists (OTs): Trained to help you and your baby with developmental milestones, OTs provide education in how to comfort your baby and care for his or her special needs. An OT can also determine if your baby will need physical therapy or early intervention after leaving the hospital.
  • Social Workers: If you need counseling or support during your stay or you don’t live nearby and need help finding a place to stay near the hospital, our social workers can help. If you’d like to talk to a social worker, ask your nurse to connect you.
  • Unit Secretary: These non-medical employees answer the phones and help with the day-to-day operations of the unit. If you have a question about anything related to your baby's stay in the NICU, the unit secretary can point you in the right direction.
  • Registered Dieticians: Our registered dieticians are healthcare professionals who specialize in reproductive nutrition, cardiovascular nutrition and the general health and wellness of your baby.
  • Cuddlers: Human touch nurtures babies and helps them thrive. Our volunteer cuddlers are specially trained to give love and attention to the babies in this unit. They sit and rock your infant when you can’t be here.

Added Safety for our Littlest Patients

Babies in the NICU are fragile and vulnerable to infection, and we do all we can to ensure their comfort and safety. It’s critical that families follow the policies in our NICU to keep our littlest patients safe.

  • Visitors: We allow no more than two people at the baby’s bedside. Parents can come together, or individually with only one visitor at a time. Visitors must be over the age of sixteen. If a sibling younger than 16 wants to visit, please contact your nurse for the healthcare questionnaire. A current copy of the sibling’s immunizations must be attached to the healthcare form. During certain special circumstances, we may post a “No Visitors” sign in front of the NICU. This includes parents.
  • Hours: We allow visiting 24-hours per day.
  • Infection Prevention: Do not enter the unit if you have a contagious illness such as a cold, flu, or other viral illness. If you think you may have been exposed to chicken pox, measles, or mumps, do not enter without first checking with the NICU staff. Do not enter the NICU if you have received the chicken pox vaccine in the past fourteen days or the nasal flu vaccine in the past twenty-one days.
  • Cameras & Video Cameras: We are committed to protecting the privacy of every family in the NICU. You are welcome to take pictures and videos of you little one but please do not photograph any other babies. If you wish to photograph staff, please ask first.
  • Telephone Calls: Parents can call the NICU 24-hours a day at: 805-948-5620. If your baby’s nurse can’t come to the phone right away, they will call you back as soon as possible.
  • Contact Information: Please make sure that the NICU team has all your contact numbers. If you do not have a telephone, please leave us the number of a neighbor or relative we can call in an emergency. A member of our medical team will call you if your baby’s condition changes. Information about your baby will be given to you or your partner or spouse.

Kangaroo Care: Skin-to-skin Bonding

Our NICU encourages Kangaroo Care, also known as skin-to-skin bonding. When your baby is stable enough to be held, we will have you unbutton your shirt or change into a patient gown so we can place the baby directly on your chest and wrap you both up in a blanket. Kangaroo care helps babies stay warm, grow faster, tolerate feedings better, and bond with their parents.