Neonatal Services (NICU)
Many hospitals offer intensive care units for newborns, but only a select few are rated by the American Academy of Pediatrics as Level 4 – the highest rating available – and even fewer are ranked among the best in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.
The CHOC neonatal program is that and more. With three neonatal intensive care units, a team of board-certified neonatologists and special units just for small babies and those who need complex surgery, no one on the West Coast is more dedicated to giving babies a healthy start.
Special Units for Customized Care
CHOC Hospital in Orange offers special units within the NICU to provide highly customized care for babies who are born between 24 and 28 weeks or weigh less than 1,000 grams, babies who need complex surgery, and babies who have neurological and cardiac concerns. You won't find this level of specialized care anywhere else on the West Coast.
What do the different levels of NICUs mean?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) differentiates newborn care units by their ability to care for patients. At CHOC, we are proud to be a Level 4 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the AAP’s highest level, as well as Level 3 and Level 2 units at Mission Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital respectively.
Bringing a baby to our neonatal intensive care unit means that child will be provided the greatest care possible with the latest advances in medical treatment by specially trained physicians and nurses. Most hospitals offer Level 1 neonatal care. The basic care in these units includes a well-newborn nursery, the evaluation and postnatal care of healthy newborns, neonatal resuscitation and the stabilization of ill newborns so that they can be transferred to a more advanced hospital, like CHOC.
Beyond the first level, units are recognized as providing specialty neonatal care (Level 2) and intensive care (Level 3). As a Level 4 unit, we exceed the standards of a traditional NICU. We provide care to babies of all birthweights and gestational ages. Our pediatric surgeons and anesthesiologists are on site to perform minor and major surgery—in some cases, even in the patient’s bed. We provide advanced respiratory support such as high-frequency ventilation and inhaled nitric oxide and offer prompt, on-site access to a full range of pediatric medical subspecialists. We also offer advanced imaging such as MRI with the ability to have experienced pediatric radiologists read those images quickly. We are also able to provide ECMO, cardiac critical care, therapeutic body cooling, real-time seizure monitoring and much more. Learn more about the life-saving technology used in our NICU.
While it is comforting for most parents to know that CHOC neonatologists—physicians specially trained to treat newborns and their unique health conditions—practice at or have privileges at hospitals throughout the region, it is important to research the actual level of care available at or near the hospital in which a child will be born. In many cases, our physicians may be able to be in the delivery rooms for at-risk babies, but if they do not have the life-saving equipment the baby needs close at hand, they will have to have the baby transported to CHOC.