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Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Altru's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), located within Altru's Family Birthing Center, is:

  • A 16-bed, Level IIIB nursery, with four private patient care rooms.
  • Specifically designed to care for critically ill infants and assist with high-risk deliveries.
  • A 24-hour, full-service neonatal transport provider to transport infants requiring intensive care services to and from Altru Health System.
  • Furnished with a wide range of state-of-the-art equipment and services to produce the best possible outcomes for neonates.

The NICU also has the capability to manage babies requiring complex medications, umbilical lines/PICC line placements, chest tube placement, and those who require intubation and need for conventional or oscillator ventilators. Nitric oxide administration as well as providing cardiac surgical procedures (PDA ligation) is also available.

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Visitor Restrictions

To prevent the spread of cold and flu germs to our tiniest patients, Altru Health System has put into place visitor restrictions for its neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), effective immediately. Please be aware of the following:

  • Parents of any age who are feeling well may visit any time.
  • Persons younger than 18 years should not visit at this time.
  • Persons ill with any of the following must not visit until symptoms are gone and after checking with a nurse:
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Sore Throat
    • Respiratory illness
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Rash
    • Eye infection
  • Visitors who feel well but are living with someone ill with respiratory symptoms should delay visiting.  

Staff

Our Physician Call Group consists of three neonatologists who rotate coverage 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

  • If needed during the infant’s NICU stay, consultations are made with neurologists, ophthalmologists, audiologists, cardiologists, nephrologists, physiatrists, geneticists, surgeons and any other specialist that may be necessary. Consultations with neonatologists from Tertiary Care Centers are also available.

Registered Nurses (RNs) are staffed in the NICU 24 hours per day, seven days a week, including some RNC-NIC (RNs certified in caring for neonatal patients) and/or Transport Nurses. All nurses are certified in Neonatal Resuscitation and are trained to perform specialized procedures such as:

  • Emergency Pneumothorax Aspiration
  • Endotracheal Intubation
  • Umbilical Vessel Catheterization
  • Monitoring, assessment and care throughout the infant’s stay
  • Chest Tube Insertion/Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter Placement (performed by Transport Nurses)

Respiratory Therapists (RTs) also play a vital role in the day-to-day care of infants in the NICU.

  • RTs manage ventilator settings and the oxygenation of the infants through the use of blood gas measurements.
  • RTs are trained in neonatal resuscitation, attend high-risk deliveries and play a vital role along with the RNs in the initial stabilization of infants.

A Transport Team, consisting of two registered nurses, a respiratory therapist and a paramedic, is able to respond to:

  • Referral hospital calls requesting transfer of a neonate or infant up to four months of age to Altru Health System.
  • Referral hospital calls requesting transfer of a high-risk expectant mother to Altru Health System. A maternal transport nurse accompanies the transport team.
  • Transfer needs of infant patients from Altru Health System to a Tertiary Care Center.

Lactation Consultants work with mothers to encourage breastfeeding by:

  • Teaching mothers how to effectively pump to keep their milk supply up while the infant is in the NICU.
  • Assisting with waking baby, getting baby latched and then keeping the infant latched so she can nurse as long as possible.

Resident Physicians function in Altru’s NICU under the direct supervision of our neonatologists.

Nursing Students work under the direct supervision of a RN to further their education and gain valuable experience.

Nurse Co-ops are nursing students who are employed by Altru and the University of North Dakota and are allowed to work in the area of nursing which they are interested in pursuing after graduation.

Safety And Security

Altru’s NICU is a secure unit.

  • All visitors must pass by staff as they enter the infant-care area, allowing staff the constant ability to monitor the safety and security of infants.
  • Photo identification nametags are worn by everyone providing direct care for the infants.
  • We do not allow transport of any infant by anyone who is not wearing a photo identification nametag.

Visitation Policy

Visitation Procedures

  • A visitation permit will be filled out by the mother and father/support person and placed on the infant’s chart.
  • Four visitors as listed by the parents on the visitor list, not including mother and father/support person or siblings of the infant. These designated people are allowed to visit without parents in attendance. All other visitors must be with the mother and/or father/support person.
  • Mother and father/support person may visit their infant any time of day, with the exception of those listed below; all others can visit the infant from 12:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Sibling visitation will be handled on an individual basis depending on the infant’s condition and anticipated length of stay.
  • Siblings MUST have parental supervision at all times.
  • No children under the age of 16, with the exception of healthy siblings, may be permitted in the NICU at any time.
  • All visitors, whether parents, siblings or others, MUST check in with the nurse prior to hand washing and entering the unit to determine whether it is an acceptable time to visit.
  • All visitors will be screened for flu/cold symptoms before entering and can not visit if symptoms exist.

Visitation is not allowed during:

  • Shift report: 7 – 7:30 a.m., 3 – 3:30 p.m., and 11 – 11:30 p.m.
  • Physician rounds: generally between 7  – 10 a.m.
  • Admission of an unstable infant.
  • Anytime staff is performing a procedure that requires clean or sterile areas within the unit.

Telephone Inquiries

  • To assist the NICU staff in maintaining confidentiality and patient privacy, information about the infant’s status can only be given to the mother and father/support person.
  • If an infant’s stay is predicted to last longer than the mother’s stay, the mother and father/support person will be provided a toll-free telephone number to be used only to obtain updates on the condition of their infant.
  • Family members or friends must receive updates through the mother and father/support person.

Photography

  • We request parents limit photography of the infant for reasons of confidentiality.
  • Please ask staff if you want to include them in any photography/videotaping.
  • Altru also offers an online birth announcement that is available on our website under Baby Gallery.

Additional Resources

  • Safekids.org (fire safety, holiday safety, home safety for infants and children, car seat safety)
  • Parenthood.com (articles on breast feeding and infant health topics)
  • Breastfeeding.com (breast feeding resource and information)