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Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) & Special Care Nursery

When your newborn has a health concern, you want to receive expert care and keep them close to loved ones. At Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, you can have both. Neonatologists (doctors specializing in sick babies) are available at a moment’s notice. 

Our special care nursery provides around-the-clock care to newborns with moderate concerns, like infections. We also offer a Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for babies with more serious issues. And our collaboration with Seattle Children’s gives your baby access to nationally recognized pediatric specialists whenever necessary.

NICU and special care nursery: Why choose us?

It’s unsettling to learn that your newborn is sick, but you don’t go through it alone. Our team provides information and reassurance that can make your baby’s NICU experience a little less overwhelming. We explain the diagnosis and how treatments can help. You also receive timely updates on your little one’s progress. 

Highlights of our program include: 

  • Early detection: We often identify concerns before birth, giving our team and your family time to prepare. Obstetricians specializing in high-risk pregnancy perform advanced testing to assess potential issues. They coordinate additional services that enable us to start caring for your baby immediately after birth if necessary.
  • Access to neonatal experts: Neonatologists from Seattle Children’s are on-site in select Virginia Mason Franciscan Health NICUs and available by phone 24 hours a day. This arrangement gives babies with more serious concerns access to additional expertise without leaving our facilities.
  • Family focus: In 2020, we renovated and expanded the Level III NICU at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma. The remodeled space combines high-quality intensive care with a cozy environment. Offerings include large, suite-like private rooms that enable parents to be near their newborns. Watch a virtual tour.

Knowing my baby was in good hands close to home made the NICU experience memorable instead of stressful.

Suzy Sill, mother of preterm baby

Updates from familiar voices give mom peace of mind: Suzy’s story

After arriving three weeks early, Suzy’s son Johnny stayed in our special care nursery until he was strong enough to come home. Suzy got to know the staff and noticed how attentive they were. When it was time for her discharge, she felt comfortable leaving her little one in their care. 

“If I had to miss a feeding because I was home with my two older children, I’d call the nursery. It was nice that the nurses answering the phone were the same ones who cared for Johnny. They were familiar voices telling me everything I wanted to know.”  Watch Suzy tell her story.

Is the Level III NICU or a special care nursery right for my newborn?

The best NICU for your newborn depends on the diagnosis and severity.

  • Children who benefit from Level III NICU services include babies who are: 

    • Very premature (born at 28 weeks or earlier)
    • In need of continuous respiratory support
    • Not capable of feeding and require nourishment through a vein (intravenously) or tube that goes from the nose to the stomach
    • Have critical illnesses that may require surgery, such as a heart defect, malformation affecting the digestive system
  • Children who benefit from a stay in one of our special care nurseries may be: 

    • Moderately preterm (born at 34 weeks or later)
    • Taking antibiotics for an infection
    • Showing signs of complications like jaundice 
    • Having difficulty maintaining their body temperature
    • Experiencing nonurgent heart or breathing conditions requiring observation

Our NICU and special care nursery locations

Level III NICU services are available at:

Our special care nurseries are in: 

Contact us

Find out more about our pregnancy and childbirth services or make an appointment.