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The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital at Anschutz is the largest Level III NICU in metro Denver, caring for more than 650 patients every year.
Nearly one-fourth of babies cared for in our NICU are born at 23-28 weeks gestation and/or less than four pounds, making this the destination of choice for women who are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, especially those with a threatening premature delivery. The NICU also specializes in the care of “preemies” and is proud of its positive and superior patient outcomes.
Features and capabilities
- Largest level III NICU in metro Denver
- Routinely cares for critically ill babies born at 23 weeks and later
- 24/7 neonatologists and neonatal nurse practitioners
- Family support spaces and play room
- Family-centered care
- Specialty trained nurses
- Certified lactation specialists to help with breastfeeding
- State-of-the-art facility and equipment
Our service teams
Our team delivers care with a multidisciplinary approach, meaning that providers from a range of specialties work together to deliver care that addresses as many of your infant’s needs as possible.
The multidisciplinary team providers compassionate, quality care 24 hours a day, seven days a week including:
Neonatalogists: Board-certified attending physicians who specialize in the care of premature and seriously ill newborns. This team of doctos is internationally recognized as leaders in innovative intensive care for newborns and neonatal scientific research.
Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNP): Nurses with an advanced degree who provide medical management and perform many procedures. Our group of NNPs is one of the largest in the United States.
Registered nurses (RNs)
Respiratory therapists: Medical professionals who focus on helping babies breathe.
Developmental therapists: Physical and occupational therapists who develop a comprehensive, individualized treatment program for all NICU patients to promote sensory and physical development as well as feeding skills. The therapists teach parents therapy programs to encourage ideal development at home.
Registered dietician specialist
Lactation specialists: Registered nurses with special training who are committed to support successful breastfeeding for all mothers who desire to breastfeed or provide breast milk for their baby.
Sub-specialists: Many of our experts have a specific area of focus beyond standard pediatric training. Every sub-specialist you could need is provided and available to our patients. This collaboration has been established to provide the very best care and a well-rounded approach to health.
Social worker: A specially-trained licensed social worker will help provide support and resources during hospitalization and in preparation for taking your baby home.
Chaplains: Spiritual care team members available at any time by request.
Perinatal loss coordinator and ethicists: Specially trained nurses and doctors who help support families and staff during difficult decisions. Families are provided with support and resources for one year after experiencing the loss of a newborn
Patient families: With our family-centered approach, parents or guardians are able to attend bedside conferences with our medical staff. By learning more and understanding the next stages in treatment, families become our partners in care, dedicated to a patient’s well-being.
March of Dimes: Our partnership with March of Dimes, an organization dedicated to preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality, allows us to better reach the community in order to connect with others looking to give back and help support the health of our children.
The first of its kind, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Parent Advisory Council (NICU Parent Advisory Council) at University of Colorado Hospital provides valuable feedback and support to the NICU.
Growing from the Patient and Family Centered Care (PFCC) Advisory Council, which covers the entire University of Colorado Hospital, the NICU Parent Advisory Council follows the same philosophy: “the highest quality of care is best achieved through a partnership of healthcare professionals and those they serve.”
The NICU Parent Advisory Council is focused specifically on the NICU experience for premature and ill newborns and their families. The council is committed to the patient’s perspective of care; in the NICU, the parents are the voice for patients.
The aim of the NICU Parent Advisory Council is to work with the interdisciplinary NICU Staff Council to improve the quality of care for patients and their families offered by University of Colorado Hospital.
Below are some of the major accomplishments of the NICU Parent Advisory Council since its inception in 2009:
- Implemented a parent satisfaction survey
- Initiated the purchase and installation of whiteboards in every patient room
- Revised visitation guidelines
- Established NICU Parent Advisory Council parent support events
- Created parent education events
- Formalized patient privacy codes to be consistent with the hospital’s policy
- Implemented the NICU Book Nook – a library of children’s books for parents
- Requested and approved NICU partnership with the Graham’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports families of preemies
- Reviewed and implemented follow-up phone calls to parents after babies return home
- Supported budget requests for more recliners, appropriate chairs for visitors, and bedside tables in each pod
- Approved the proposal for a March of Dimes Family Support Specialist
- Offers one-one-one parent support through parent advisors
- Sends communications and holiday greetings to NICU parents
- Began creating “Wall of Hope” with Preemie Prints, a nonprofit organization providing support to preemie, NICU, and angel families
- Began a partnership with Love for Lily, a nonprofit organization that provides support for families with babies in the NICU and sponsors frequent NICU Mom’s Group meetings and NICU Dinner Group meetings to bring families of NICU babies together
Joining the Council. Parents wishing to be part of the council must complete a pre-screening application, a confidentiality agreement, and an in-depth interview.
The developmental therapy team at the NICU at University of Colorado Hospital consists of occupational, physical, and speech/language therapists who specialize in providing developmental therapies for newborns and infants.
Typically, the therapists work with newborns at greatest risk of developmental delays, which include those born at 33 weeks or less or who are small for their gestational age; those exposed to drug and/or alcohol in-utero; and those with genetic abnormalities. Nurses and physicians also may recommend newborns for therapies based on other needs or concerns.
First, a therapist performs an evaluation and then may recommend treatment to address specific sensory, physical and/or feeding areas of development. Therapy treatments are generally provided a half hour before the infant is due to have a diaper change and to be fed, minimizing disruption and allowing for improved sleep. Families are always welcome and encouraged to participate in therapy sessions.
Working closely with the NICU nursing staff and medical team, the therapists also help teach parents supportive care and positioning options to promote development. These practices can include.
- How to promote optimal infant development
- Identification of infant stress cues and ways to reduce them
- Various types of infant massage
- Ways to encourage development of the senses
- Positioning options
- Techniques and exercises to improve breast or bottle feeding
- Exercises to perform after being discharged from the hospital
Frequently Asked Questions
Parents may be with your newborn whenever you like, day or night. Our NICUs allow parental and designated family visitation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Children under the age of 12 may visit if they are siblings of the patient; to assist families, the hospital NICU offers a “Bright Space” or play room within the unit for siblings of NICU patients (child supervision is not provided).
Parents and siblings who visit are screened daily for potential illness that could be passed to newborns.
Yes – young siblings are welcome to visit. However, during seasonal flu and RSV season there are visitation restrictions in place for the safety and health of NICU patients. Speak with your nurse to verify visitation allowance for siblings.
We fully encourage mothers to breastfeed their newborns if possible and our teams are committed to helping you achieve your breastfeeding goals. All mothers interested in providing their breast milk are assisted in expressing their milk and given appropriate supplies to store their milk safely.
Our NICUs also provide lactation consultation and donor milk services.
Our lactation team can help you to achieve your breastfeeding goals by offering support in the following situations:
- Breastfeeding a premature infant or an infant with slow weight gain/failure to thrive
- Breastfeeding under special circumstances, such as Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis and heart disease
- Infant feeding challenges, such as cleft lip / cleft palate and cardiac defects
- Insufficient or low milk supply or concerns about weight loss (less than 10% in first two weeks)
- Infant fussiness/sucking difficulties that interfere with breastfeeding
- Infant preference for bottle feeding or inability to latch
- Concerns about your medications, an acute or chronic illness, or food intolerances/allergies
- Breastfeeding while returning to work
- Breastfeeding more than one infant (multiple births)
- Discomfort with nursing
- Breast engorgement or mastitis
- Concerns about maintaining your milk supply and/or breastfeeding when you and your baby are separated
- In the event that you have a premature or hospitalized infant, the lactation team will help you express your milk with a breast pump.
After you and your newborn leave the hospital, our lactation team provides:
- Telephone advice related to breastfeeding or pumping issues
- Educational materials for mothers and healthcare professionals
- Breastfeeding supplies or breast pump rental referrals
- In-service education for healthcare professionals
University of Colorado Hospital provides four sleep rooms in the NICU. For details and room reservations in the NICU, call the Patient Service Coordinator at 720-848-5224.
The NICU has a parent lounge with television and Wifi. The hospital features “Tea Time” on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. – offering tea and refreshment for families. There are also two cafeterias on the first floor of the hospital.
Your infant’s medical team (including physicians, neonatal nurse practitioners and bedside nurses) is present in the NICU 24 hours a day. You are encouraged to join the medical team during bedside rounds every morning when your team of medical experts will discuss your baby’s progress and plan of care. This is an excellent time to ask questions. If you are unable to attend medical rounds, simply ask your bedside nurse to contact your physician or nurse practitioner to come speak with you directly.
Absolutely. Your referring physician is a partner in care, so if information sharing is a priority, your care team can work with referring healthcare professionals during your time with us.