CHOC Children's

CHOC Pressroom

February 19, 2013

Orange County’s littlest patients will now receive big care just steps away from their mothers in a new neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The CHOC Children’s NICU at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange opened to patients Feb. 11, further expanding neonatal and mother-baby services to local families and deepening a nearly 50-year partnership between the two hospitals.

For the first time in the facilities’ long collaboration, NICU-admitted babies now stay under the same roof as their new parents. Previously, mothers recovered at St. Joseph Hospital after delivery, and babies with medical needs received care at CHOC Children’s hospital next door.

With the new 10,600-square-foot facility, CHOC neonatal experts are prepared to begin infant care immediately should the need arise following delivery at St. Joseph Hospital. Newborns with low-to-moderate medical needs will be admitted to the 13-bed, level II NICU. There, monitoring equipment can continuously track a baby’s heartbeat, respiratory status, temperature, blood pressure, weight and other vital functions.

“Every parent wants to stay as close to their baby as possible, especially when the child needs extra medical attention,” said Dr. Vijay Dhar, medical director of CHOC Children’s NICU. “The CHOC Children’s NICU at St. Joseph Hospital will provide parents with reassurance that their new baby receives top-notch care while just steps away. We couldn’t be more pleased to offer this amenity, and broaden neonatal and mother-baby services in Orange County.”

The 12 patient rooms each allow a parent to stay overnight to ensure time for critical parent-child bonding. Room design incorporated sound and light control for proper neurologic development. Also, space for additional rooms is available to accommodate future program growth.

Babies needing more significant medical attention will receive care just across the street at CHOC Children's existing NICU, the region’s only level IIIC unit. The 54-bed facility offers four multi-patient rooms, six single-care rooms, four private rooms for “rooming in,” and two four-bed suites. The unit also has a two-bed Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) unit, a lifesaving device the only of its kind in Orange County. NICUs generally care for babies born premature, with low birth weights or with medical conditions requiring special care such as heart conditions, infections and birth defects. Nearly 13 percent of babies in the United States are born pre-term, and many of these babies also have low birth weights. Twins, triplets and other multiple-birth babies are often admitted to the NICU because they tend to be born earlier and smaller than single-birth babies.

Named one of the best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report (2014-2015) and a 2013 Leapfrog Top Hospital for the highest quality of care, Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC Children's) is exclusively committed to the health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach, education and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients. Affiliated with the University of California, Irvine, CHOC’s regional health care network includes two state-of-the-art hospitals in Orange and Mission Viejo, many primary and specialty care clinics, a pediatric residency program, and four clinical centers of excellence - the CHOC Children’s Heart, Neuroscience, Orthopaedic and Hyundai Cancer Institutes..

CHOC earned the Gold Level CAPE Award from the California Council of Excellence, the only children’s hospital in California to ever earn this distinction, and was awarded Magnet designation, the highest honor bestowed to hospitals for nursing excellence.  Recognized for extraordinary commitment to high-quality critical care standards, CHOC’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is the first in the United States to earn the Beacon Award for Pediatric Critical Care Excellence.


Media Contact:
Andrea Woodhouse, Public Relations Specialist
phone: (714) 509-4183