The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center was established in 1993. A tertiary care NICU was needed in southern Suffolk County to care for the sickest of newborn babies. An interdisciplinary staff also supports the efforts of the NICU team including physical therapists, social workers and pediatric subspecialists.
The development of the NICU was part of an ambitious plan to implement the broad concepts of perinatal/neonatal care for mothers and their babies, monitoring of high-risk pregnancies and intensive support of high-risk infants. Today, Good Samaritan has the largest perinatal and neonatal center in southern Suffolk County. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit treats more then 500 infants each year.
The mission of the Department is to provide excellent, compassionate care of the newborn in a family-centered and developmentally supportive environment. New York state’s Department of Health has designated Good Samaritan’s neonatal and obstetrical services as a tertiary level III center.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
The NICU is a 16-bed, state-of-the-art facility, which provides the broad spectrum of specialized, multidisciplinary intensive care services for infants as young as 23 weeks and as small as one pound at birth. The NICU is equipped to provide care for the broad range of newborn critical illnesses, including breathing, infectious, surgical, hematological, neurological, genetic and metabolic disorders. New treatments include high frequency ventilation techniques and the ability to provide nitrous oxide treatment. This offers a high level of care to babies with severe respiratory failure.
A neonatologist, a physician with training and expertise to treat sick newborns and premature infants, provides and supervises the care in the NICU. At Good Samaritan, a neonatologist is in the hospital 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, to attend to all high-risk deliveries, provide medical care and support to infants and their families and bring the most current information to the bedside. These dedicated physicians are board certified in the field of neonatology.
The NICU team includes skilled and professional neonatal nurses, with specialized training in caring for sick newborns and premature babies, who provide around-the-clock nursing care. Subspecialists in various fields of pediatrics, such as surgery, cardiology, neurology, hematology, gastroenterology, pulmonology, as well as infectious disease and development are available to assist the neonatologists in providing care for the NICU patients.
The neonatal follow–up program was created to continue the expert care after the patient goes home. Along with the neonatologists, pediatric subspecialists assess the medical, developmental and nutritional needs of the preterm and high-risk infants after discharge from the NICU. Infants with complex conditions, such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia requiring supplemental oxygen, bronchodilator/diuretic therapy, as well as infants requiring RSV prophylaxis, are followed in the program. Referral for special services, such as home care nursing, an early intervention program and subspecialty consultation, is available to the patients if necessary.
Infant Hearing Screen Program
The Department of Neonatology also runs a state-of-the-art infant hearing-screening program at Good Samaritan. Dedicated professionals perform hearing screening tests on all newborns prior to their discharge to home. They are also followed in the outpatient infant hearing-screening center for follow-up evaluation and referral.
Physical Therapy in the NICU
A full-term infant spends 40-weeks supported in the fetal position floating in a fluid-filled amniotic sac. A premature infant, born less than 36-weeks gestation, is no longer in the natural environment and needs positional support, physical therapy, optimal lighting and sound control in addition to intensive medical care. With advances in neonatal care, premature infants up to 23-weeks gestation can survive. These high-risk infants often spend several months in the NICU receiving the medical intervention necessary to live and grow. The physical therapists in the NICU play a key role in providing care for these high-risk infants. Premature infants are at an increased risk for developmental delay and a physical therapist can assist these infants with positioning to promote postural alignment and therapeutic handling to stimualate neonatal reflexes, improve muscle tone, head control and promote normal patterns of movement. These infants are often fed by tube and require oral motor stimulation to prepare them for nipple feedings. Infants suffering from genetic, neurological and musculoskeletal conditions also benefit from physical therapy in the NICU by improving their outcome and promoting optimal development.
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