The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of South City Hospital Private Limited is an 8 bedded tertiary care facility that has been catering to the general population for more than a decade. The NICU of SCH is providing specialist care to sick term and preterm (premature) newborn babies. Our state-of-the-art, purpose-built unit has been specially designed as a bright, spacious place to provide a welcoming environment to the babies and their parents.
The practice of neonatal intensive care has evolved significantly over the past few decades. Before the 1950s there was no concept of treating sick babies and they were sent home with their mothers. It was not until after the second world war that special care baby units were established that later on proved to be the precursors of modern NICUs. Since then the knowledge and capacity to treat sick newborn babies, especially premature infants have advanced speedily all over the world. The concept of parental involvement in NICU and family-centered care was introduced later which provided a more comprehensive and holistic approach to neonatal care leading to improvements in survival and neurodevelopmental outcomes.
The NHS – UK categorizes hospitals into 3 levels depending upon the standard of newborn care and services provided at the hospitals. These are:
The NICU at South City Hospital is classified as a level 3 unit where all required facilities and expertise are available to provide intensive care and monitoring to newborn babies delivered as early as 24 weeks gestation and as small as 500g birth weight. The NICU of South City Hospital is supported by Paediatric Surgeons, Paediatric Urologists, Paediatric Cardiac and Cardiothoracic surgeons, and ophthalmologists to help take care of babies needing surgery and intensive monitoring and care. The hospital has a state-of-the-art Feto-maternal Unit where antenatal care, detailed antenatal scans of all high-risk deliveries including nuchal translucency scans and anomaly scans, fetal cardiac scans, chorionic villus sampling, and amniocentesis are also provided. All these facilities provide us with the expertise to deliver care and outcomes comparable to any level 3 unit around the world.
The NICU at SCH provides care for all sick preterm and full-term babies starting at 24 weeks gestation and 500 g birth weight. Infants who are as small as 550 g have been cared for and discharged home from here. A neonatologist attends all deliveries that take place at South City Hospital happening round the clock. Parents of babies are involved in the care and they are allowed to visit the NICU 24/7. They are counseled regarding the importance of colostrum and breastfeeding for all but especially preterm babies and encouraged to provide kangaroo mother care, skin-to-skin contact, and non-nutritive and nutritive sucking. The unit provides both invasive ventilation with mechanical ventilators and non-invasive ventilation via high flow, CPAPs, and nasal prongs. Surgical babies are also provided with both pre-operative and post-operative care in our NICU. In addition, a neonatologist attends all major surgeries to monitor the baby undergoing surgery and assist with the stabilization of the patient, if needed. Procedures performed within our unit include umbilical arterial and venous lines, PICC lines, Chest tube insertion, and cranial ultrasounds just to name a few. Antenatal consultations are provided in the feto-maternal unit and the delivery suite. All infants are examined at birth and later at the mother’s bedside and counseling regarding breastfeeding and other issues is done. Parents are encouraged to room in with NICU-admitted babies before discharge. Parents of preterm babies are especially in need of counseling regarding danger signs and training for CPR before discharging these babies home. All babies are vaccinated with birth vaccines (BCG, OPV, hepatitis B) before discharge at home.
Doctors and nurses in the unit take every opportunity to counsel and educate families regarding the care of their newborn infants which takes place in various settings including the delivery suite, post-natal ward, and outpatient clinics on follow-up visits.
All babies especially the NICU graduates are followed up in our outpatient clinics including our neurodevelopmental, breastfeeding, and vaccination clinics. These follow-up sessions involve the evaluation of the infant’s growth, nutrition, immunizations, and neurological status. Ophthalmological examination to rule out and treat retinopathy of prematurity is conducted by trained consultant ophthalmologists during the hospital stay and after discharge. Moreover, SCH has 24 hours emergency unit which is supported by well-trained staff and doctors.
The round-the-clock cover is provided by trained Neonatologists to provide safety and care to newborn babies keeping with international standards of neonatal care. Moreover, NICU is supported by well-trained staff, qualified nurses, and resident doctors to ensure regular monitoring and care of newborns. All nurses are well-experienced in neonatal care and are hired after a period of training and preceptorship. Since NICU is a part of the Paediatric Department it benefits from the availability of other specialties such as Paediatric Cardiology, Paediatric cardiothoracic surgery, Paediatric urology, Paediatric Neurology, and Paediatric Surgery, etc. Moreover, the hospital is supported by 24-hour radiology services and a blood bank essential to the care of sick newborn babies.
The well-baby unit of SCH or the post-natal ward is the place where babies are shifted alongside their mothers from the delivery suite. The well-baby unit is well supported by nursing staff, midwives and nurse assistants who help the new parents learn to take care of their babies. SCH provides an environment keeping with WHO baby-friendly hospital criteria where breastfeeding is supported along with skin-to-skin contact. Nurses help mothers learn the key points regarding positions and attachment to ensure appropriate breastfeeding techniques. Apart from feeding, babies are given their first bath and vaccinated with birth vaccines before discharge. Every effort is made not to separate babies from their mothers and essential monitoring of vital signs and blood sugars is provided at the bedside. Routine labs are offered after 48 hours of life and all newborn babies are screened for congenital thyroid problems after birth. Every opportunity is taken by the staff to train and counsel parents regarding common newborn problems and their solutions.