Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
PinnacleHealth’s Harrisburg Hospital offers the area’s only Level III, 32-bed neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Level III designation means that our qualified staff can provide top-notch care for a high volume of critically ill babies and babies born as early as 23 weeks gestation.
If your baby is born prematurely or has health problems at birth, you can count on our NICU staff to provide the best care for your baby. We will also provide you with the support and information you need to care for your baby after discharge.
We deliver round-the-clock treatment for a number of conditions, including:
- Breathing problems
- Premature birth
- Conditions affecting the brain
- Heart conditions
- Stomach and digestive disorders
- Eye problems
- Feeding difficulties
- Failure to thrive
- Post-surgical care
We have the latest, most advanced technology and equipment specially designed for babies. Our neonatal physicians are available 24/7 and are backed by a full range of pediatric subspecialists, including cardiologists, surgeons, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, dietitians and gastroenterologists.
Our NICU staff includes:
- Board-certified neonatologists
- Three neonatal nurse practitioners
- Experienced, qualified registered nurses
- Specially trained volunteers who will rock and hold your baby when you are unavailable
PinnacleHealth is part of Pediatrix Medical Group, the largest group of neonatal experts in the United States. Because of this partnership, our neonatal physicians can conduct online consultations and participate in patient management discussions with other neonatal experts across the county.
The Lactation Club
The Lactation Club (TLC) at PinnacleHealth is a hospital lactation program that empowers mothers to provide human milk for their pre-term infants by removing barriers to human milk feedings.
If your baby is in the NICU and you choose to provide breast milk, TLC will connect you and other mothers of NICU babies with a specialized NICU lactation consultant, nurse practitioner and dietitian. Meetings are held weekly and provide strong peer support from other mothers whose babies are in the NICU.
Visiting the NICU
Our NICU staff believe that you are an important part of your baby’s care team. That’s why we encourage you to be with your baby 24 hours a day, except during NICU-related emergencies and physician rounds, which are usually held between 9 and 10:30 a.m. You are encouraged to join physician rounds for your baby only.
No more than three people are permitted at your baby’s bedside at one time. Family and friends are permitted to visit only when accompanied by you or your partner. Visitors other than parents are welcome between 10:30 a.m. and 8 or 9 p.m. Visitors other than siblings must be 16 or older.
Siblings are welcome to visit, but must be at least 3 years old and must have had the chicken pox vaccine at least one month prior to visiting. To help protect our tiniest patients and prevent infection, you must supervise visiting children at all times. You are responsible for teaching all visitors how to wash their hands properly before entering the NICU.
Note: Visitors who have been exposed to any infectious disease or have flu or cold symptoms should speak with a NICU nurse before entering the unit.
Technology and Equipment
PinnacleHealth’s NICU at Harrisburg Hospital uses the latest, most up-to-date equipment to care for your baby.
Baby warmers. Also called incubators, baby warmers are cots that help keep your baby warm and control the humidity level around him. We have several types of incubators and will choose the one that is best suited to your baby’s individual care needs.
Ventilators. If your baby is very premature or weak, a ventilator will help her lungs do the work of breathing.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. If your baby needs breathing assistance, a CPAP machine will gently inflate his lungs and help keep them open. Your baby will receive air through a mask or a tube in his nose called a nasal cannula.
Feeding tubes. If your baby is not ready to be fed from your breast or a bottle, a feeding tube enables her to have milk fed straight into her stomach. Our nurses gently insert a soft, flexible tube through your baby’s nose or mouth into her stomach.
Phototherapy lights. If your baby is diagnosed with jaundice after birth, phototherapy lights will help him recover. Jaundice, or a yellowing of the skin, is a fairly common condition caused by a buildup of a substance called bilirubin in your baby’s body.
Monitors. Your baby’s care team assesses your baby’s condition by using a number of monitors to track heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and oxygen level .
To help ease your anxiety about returning home with your baby, we encourage “rooming-in,” a practice where you and your baby spend time together before he or she goes home. We also allow you to fully participate in the care of your baby while he or she is in the NICU so you can bond and become familiar with your baby’s routines.
We have a dedicated “Transition Care Coordinator” and a social worker to help you prepare for discharge. These specialized, caring staff members will provide all the resources, support and information you need to confidently bring your baby home.
Neurodevelopment Follow-Up Clinic
Babies requiring care in the NICU often need follow-up care to ensure that they are growing and developing properly. Our Neurodevelopment Follow-Up Clinic provides intensive, customized follow-up care and treatment to help your baby continue on a healthy path after leaving the NICU.
The following highly trained specialists will treat and care for your baby:
- A nutritionist
- A physical therapist
- An infant development intervention specialist
- A developmental pediatrician
Our specialists will work with you to create an ongoing, individualized care plan for your baby that addresses his or her specific developmental needs.
Infant Development Program
If your baby is born with a disability or medical condition, PinnacleHealth’s comprehensive Infant Development Program (IDP) provides early intervention services through his or her toddler years.
Your child’s IDP care team will include:
- Early childhood specialists
- Physical, occupational and speech therapists
- Your child’s pediatrician
Your child’s care team will provide development evaluations, home visits and early intervention services from birth through age three. The program is funded by grants from the Mental Health/Mental Retardation Program of Dauphin, Cumberland and Perry counties. Services include:
- Assistive technology library
- Audiological evaluations
- Behavioral/emotional support services
- Developmental therapy
- Developmental follow-up for former NICU babies
- Hearing evaluations
- Infant massage instruction
- Developmental evaluation
- Nutritional consultation
- Occupational therapy
- Parent resources and support activities
- Pediatric feeding consultations
- Physical therapy
- Speech therapy
Note: IDP services are provided at PinnacleHealth’s Community Health Center in Uptown Harrisburg.