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Tacoma General Hospital earns state designation for highest level of care for critically ill newborns

Posted on Jun. 24, 2014 ( comments)

The Washington State Department of Health recently designated the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital as a Level IV regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the highest level of care available for critically ill newborns.

Tacoma General is the only hospital in the South Sound with this designation and the only hospital that can treat babies who need unique or rarely performed medical or surgical procedures. It operates the area’s largest NICU, with 40 Level IV NICU beds and 30 Level II Special Care Nursery beds.

The NICU was remodeled and expanded in early 2014 as part of a $192 million project to expand services for women, newborns and children at Tacoma General Hospital and Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma.

NICU Neonatologist Dr. Jeff Yuan

Neonatologist Dr. Jeff Yuan cares for a newborn baby at Tacoma General Hospital

"Our NICU takes care of newborns from all over the region who require round-the-clock care by our expert nurses and providers,” said Lisa Strom, Chief Operating Officer of Tacoma General Hospital. “We're proud to work together to provide these infants with the care they need and to help ensure that they thrive and go on to live healthy, productive lives."

The new Level IV designation follows a revision of the state’s NICU guidelines last year and now matches national standards from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

To meet the state’s standards for Level IV, Tacoma General’s NICU must have a full range of pediatric medical subspecialists, pediatric surgical subspecialists and must be able to provide surgical repair of complex congenital or acquired conditions.

Tacoma General’s NICU is connected to MultiCare Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, southwest Washington’s only pediatric hospital, where NICU graduates receive follow-up care.

About the NICU designations

The guidelines define four levels of care:

  • Level 1: Normal newborn nursery
  • Level 2: Special care nursery for premature and mildly ill newborns
  • Level 3: Neonatal intensive care for very premature and critically ill newborns that sometimes offer select surgical procedures
  • Level 4: Regional NICU with comprehensive services to treat all medical and surgical problems of newborns.
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