What is a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)?

The Northwestern Medicine Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) provide state-of-the-art care for premature and seriously ill newborns. Our services and equipment are designed for the smallest patients. The NICUs are staffed 24 hours a day by specially trained nurses and neonatologists and patients have access to the full range of pediatric subspecialists.

Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital offers a Level II-E Special Care Nursery, in addition to Northwestern Medicine's Renée Schine Crown NICU at Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women's Hospital and the Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital NICU. Both are secured level III NICUs. Level III is the highest possible designation for a NICU.

Coordinated approach to care

If your newborn is transferred to the NICU, he or she will be cared for by a team of physicians, nurses and other health professionals with advanced expertise in the intensive care treatment of newborns and infants.

While the main focus is caring for your baby, the specialists and practitioners understand the challenges and wide range of emotions parents and loved ones face. Within the NICU’s nurturing environment, you’ll find a team that spends time listening to you, responding to your concerns and celebrating the small successes along the way.

NICU security

For the safety of your baby, the NICU is locked at all times.

State-of-the-art technology and treatment

Our Level III NICUs offer state-of-the-art technology and treatments for newborns, including:

  • Minimally invasive ventilating techniques
  • Brain coding
  • Neonatal surgery

Neonatal medical and surgical concerns

Neonatologists, neonatal nurse practitioners and nurse specialists provide 24-hour onsite care for a full range of conditions, including:

  • Congenital anomalies
  • Disorders of the lung and gastrointestinal systems
  • Low birth weight and extreme prematurity
  • Medical complications such as seizures, apnea, jaundice, sepsis, slow transition and poor feeding
  • Premature birth (less than 37 weeks gestation)
  • Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)

Neonatal Follow-Up Program

After going home, NICU babies continue to receive special care. Through the Neonatal Follow-Up Program, a focused clinical team follows your baby’s growth. You will receive tips on feeding, child care, and growth and development stages—including speech and language—during the first year of your child’s life.

Family Support Programs

Several special programs coordinated by child life specialists throughout Northwestern Medicine are specifically designed to reduce the negative impact of illness and hospitalization.

March of Dimes NICU

The Northwestern Medicine Renée Schine Crown Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women's Hospital was the first NICU in Illinois to provide the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program. Built on a philosophy of family centered care, the program helps families throughout a newborn's hospitalization, during the transition home and in the event of a newborn's death.

The program also provides a stocked book cart of children’s books for parents to read to their infants at the bedside to promote early bonding.

For more information, contact the NICU Family Support Specialist at 312.472.4347 or jbowen@marchofdimes.org.

NICU Family Support® Bright Space® for NICU Siblings

The March of Dimes and Bright Horizons have formed a partnership to create Bright Space areas in NICU waiting rooms across the country.

The space is designed to brighten the lives of siblings and families in crisis and promote self-healing through play. In December 2013, the Renée Schine Crown NICU was one of three hospitals nationwide to be chosen to receive a Bright Space.

This area is available to more than 1,600 families a year who have a child in the NICU at Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women’s Hospital.

Child Life Volunteers

Specially trained volunteers work directly with the child life specialists to create an environment that is non-threatening and welcoming to children while providing opportunities for play and self expression through art, games and music.

Open Heart Magic

Hospital magicians work one-on-one with children, using magic as a means to encourage participation, engage the imagination, and help these pediatric patients find their own sense of confidence and mastery as they learn to perform the tricks for their physicians, families and friends.

Flashes of Hope

This non-profit organization is dedicated to creating powerful, uplifting portraits of children fighting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

Beads of Courage, Inc.

This national program supports and strengthens the protective resources in children coping with cancer (hematology/oncology). Children string colorful beads—each one representing a treatment milestone—as markers on their treatment paths.

Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation

This organization is dedicated to providing comfort and distraction from painful procedures to children who have been diagnosed with cancer, by providing gifts from a treasure chest.

Locations & Contact Information

    Related Resources

    Have questions? Need support? Get answers and meet NICU families at shareyourstory.org.