All parents want their children to grow up healthy and making sure that a child receives the right care in his or her early days is crucial, especially for children born prematurely or with medical problems. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 15 million babies are born prematurely each year, equating to more than one in every 10 births.
For babies born in Western Massachusetts, the Davis Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) unit is here. Located within Baystate Children’s Hospital at 759 Chestnut St. in Springfield, the Davis NICU is the region’s only Level III NICU. All NICUs help babies who need extra care, however, depending on the baby’s needs there are different levels of care ranked on a scale from I to IV, or one to four:
- Level I: provides basic care for healthy, full-term babies, transferring premature newborns to more advanced facilities.
- Level II: offers advanced care for babies born at 32 weeks gestation or more, or who are recovering from serious conditions.
- Level III (like the Davis NICU): offers subspecialty care to babies born at less than 32 weeks gestation, and those born with critical illnesses.
- Level IV: provides the highest, acutest level of care; offering a full range of pediatric medical and surgical subspecialties, as well as on-site pediatric anesthesiologists.
Being so highly ranked, and part of a fully accredited hospital, the Davis NICU features an extensive staff of highly trained professionals. Neonatologists, with special training in the care of sick or premature babies, coordinate all patients’ care. They are aided by pediatric doctors, pediatric subspecialists, neonatal nutritionists, respiratory therapists and neonatal nurse practitioners. There are even neonatal social workers, to help parents find resources and support during their baby’s time in the NICU, and lactation consultants to assist breastfeeding mothers.