Tacoma General Hospital is the only hospital in the South Puget Sound that can provide the highest level of care possible for critically ill infants.
The Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) serves premature and critically ill newborns and is the Neonatal Referral Center for all of southwest Washington. Additionally, Tacoma General is nationally accredited in neonatal transport services and provides care and transportation for more than 500 premature infants annually.
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is made up of two units, including the Intermediate Care Nursery. The two units, 56-beds provide different levels of care based on a baby's needs.
The Intermediate Care Nursery (ICN) is the next step for babies when they leave the NICU after they are in stable condition and no longer on a ventilator.
The ICN is designed to help parents adjust to life with their new baby. Families can hold the baby, give baths and feedings. Parents are encouraged to take on all the care for their infant, if they choose, with a nurse by their side to assist. Parents can even stay overnight with their baby before discharge to see what it is like to spend a few nights with their new baby.
Retinopathy of Prematurity, or ROP, is a potentially blinding disease affecting the retinas (the light-sensitive linings of the inside of the eyes) in premature infants. In infants born prematurely, the blood vessels that supply the retinas are not yet completely developed. This condition can lead to nearsightedness, misalignment of the eyes and even blindness.
Recently, the Tacoma General NICU staff developed a comprehensive strategy to reduce the number of premature infants who need to be treated for advanced ROP. The program reduced the cases of advanced ROP by nearly 40 percent in the first year.
The NICU team anticipates continued improvement as well as educational programs and more discussion as they share the program with other NICUs around the country.