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Moms choose Tacoma General for highest level of NICU baby care

Posted on Jun. 6, 2013 ( comments)

Baby Jadelynn weighed 1 pound, 10 ounces when she was born. Only Tacoma Genera's NICU is equipped to treat the smallest and the sickest babies, right here in Tacoma.

Baby Jadelynn, pictured above, weighed 1 pound, 10 ounces when she was born.

"I was 24 weeks and five days along," says her mother, Amber.

Only one Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Tacoma is certified to provide care for premature and critically ill newborns like Jadelynn, no matter how small their size or how complex their condition.

That’s why mothers who want the highest level of NICU care for their baby in Tacoma choose the NICU at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital.

Only Tacoma General’s NICU is equipped to treat the smallest and the sickest babies, right here in Tacoma. In fact, other hospitals with lower-level NICU's transfer their youngest, their smallest and their most critically ill babies to Tacoma General’s NICU to receive a higher level of care.

Each year, Tacoma General’s NICU serves more than 900 premature and critically ill newborns. Babies have “graduated” to go home from Tacoma General’s NICU after weighing less than a pound at birth.

Baby Jadelynn spent 72 days in the Tacoma General NICU and Intermediate Care Nursery before she was well enough to go home.

Today, Jadelynn is 5 years old, happy and healthy, thanks to the care she received in those critical first weeks of life.

"As a parent of a preemie, I know how scary it is to watch your child in an incubator and feel helpless," Jadelynn's mom tells other NICU parents. "But know that you are not alone, and that you’re in the best of care at Tacoma General."

The highest-risk moms and babies are transferred to Tacoma General from 16 hospitals in 11 counties, including other hospitals in Pierce County.

That's because Tacoma General is designated by the Washington State Department of Health as the Perinatal Regional Network referral center for all of Southwest Washington -- one of only four such centers in the state. (The network comprises MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital, University of Washington in Seattle, Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, and Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.)

That means that mothers can stay close to their babies at Tacoma General while they both receive life-saving treatment.

For more than 35 years, Tacoma General’s NICU has developed the resources and expertise to care for the most complex and fragile newborns. Of all the hospitals in Pierce County, only Tacoma General has a neonatologist on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Tacoma General operates 30 NICU beds and 26 Intensive Care Unit beds, more than any other hospital in the state outside of Seattle.

As part of MultiCare’s expansion for women and children, Tacoma General’s NICU will expand to 30 private rooms by early 2014. Each infant will be protected from unnecessary noise, lights and exposure.

By 2015, Tacoma General will be licensed for 40 NICU beds and 30 ICN beds, serving the highest risk moms and babies from all of Southwest Washington, right here in Tacoma.

Support for families

Neonatal Transport Service: Critically ill newborns from across Southwest Washington rely on the advanced services of Tacoma General's NICU. To give them faster access to our high level care, the Center has established a unique transport service. MultiCare’s Neonatal Transport Team is the first ground-only transport in the nation to win accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems.

Tree House: Families with babies in the NICU can stay at Tree House, our family apartments on the hospital campus, so they can be close to their child.

Ongoing care at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital & Health Center: The Neonatal Follow-up Clinic at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center in Tacoma monitors children who may be at risk for developmental delays due to prematurity or other factors.

Perinatal Outreach Program: The high-risk specialists at MultiCare do more than care for our patients. They are leading a region-wide effort to improve pregnancy outcomes and help ensure that fewer babies are born prematurely or with a low-birth weight.

Resources for parents

Learn more about the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Learn more about giving birth at Tacoma General Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, or Auburn Medical Center.

If you're pregnant (or thinking about becoming pregnant), find a physician.

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