Even the healthiest and most careful expectant moms can experience unforeseen problems during pregnancy or childbirth. Understanding that pregnancy can be filled with unexpected challenges, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital recently opened a new state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

“There are many things that can happen that you don’t expect,” says Melissa Stehlin, BSN, RN, clinical director of the Women and Family Center at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital (USC-VHH). Stehlin adds that the NICU was created as an extension of support and resource to expecting women in the area who develop high-risk issues during pregnancy, such as preterm labor, gestational diabetes or gestational hypertension, as well as those who could develop more serious complications or unanticipated events.

The NICU at USC-VHH opened in March 2018 to provide a higher level of care and extra peace of mind for all patients planning to deliver their little ones at USC-VHH in the event that either their pregnancy or delivery doesn’t go as planned.

The NICU can tend to the needs of premature newborns delivered after 32 weeks, many of whom need extra help, particularly with breathing, while they continue to develop. It is also a safety net for those newborns who experience unanticipated problems shortly after they are born.

Unlike many NICUs, the facility has private rooms for families, affording parents the opportunity to spend more time with their newborn and to be more involved in their care. Understanding that some babies may have to spend weeks or even months in the NICU, it is also outfitted with NICView cameras so that parents can check on their family’s newest addition by smartphone or computer should they need to leave its side.

Though designated a Level 2 NICU, USC-VHH is outfitted with some technology typically only found in Level 3 NICUs. Investing in new technologies like state-of-the-art ventilators and incubators is another way the team at USC-VHH hopes to give its littlest patients top care.

“The addition of the NICU at USC-VHH allows moms and families to stay close to home,” says Keith Hobbs, MBA, chief executive officer of USC-VHH. “Our NICU is outfitted with leading-edge technology and best-in-class service to provide exceptional care to the very newest members of our community and their parents.”

By Hope Hamashige