After nearly two years, we at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin are thrilled to announce that the renovation of our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in our Milwaukee hospital has been completed. In the weeks leading up to the grand opening, you could feel the excitement in our hallways. Staff, in our purple “We’re Moving!” t-shirts, were counting down the days till January 17, 2017, when the first patients would be transferred to their new home.

Now open, our NICU is the first Level IV NICU in Wisconsin with all private rooms. It’s also the largest in the state, with 70 private rooms, one triplet room and three twin rooms, three family living rooms and three breast pump rooms in addition to the personal breast pump stations located in each room.

High-tech features

In addition to being beautiful and spacious and just so warm and welcoming, our new NICU includes many high-tech features that will help our babies grow, develop and heal, including:

  • Special lighting, including restorative blue lights for interior rooms without windows and sound-activated lights that serve as visual reminders to keep voices low
  • Hand-washing sinks that have special circulating color lights to help ensure properly scrubbed hands
  • Each room is larger to accommodate bedside procedures (even surgery) as well as space and furniture for parents to sleep at the infant’s bedside
  • State-of-the-art milk kitchen for the management, preparation and distribution of human milk

Support for parents

We also went to great lengths to design our NICU to support each baby’s parents, so that they may feel as comfortable as possible during this vulnerable time. Families can enjoy:

  • Our learning center, which offers structured activities for both education and socialization
  • Two parent suites, designated for the parents of our most critical patients, are available when parents do not want to be far away and it may be difficult to sleep at the bedside
  • Family living rooms, designed for special times when a family needs additional space with their family and friends

Offering the highest quality of care

Even though the space may be new, the level of care is unchanged — it’s as excellent as it’s always been. As a Level IV NICU — which is the top designation by The American Academy of Pediatrics — we offer the highest quality of care available, with capabilities and access to services that other facilities don’t have. Level IV NICUs can handle the most acute and medically complex cases and have pediatric surgeons and specialists available 24 hours a day. Consistently ranked among the nation’s best by US News and World Report, our Neonatology Program cares for more than 700 infants every year.

Another thing that makes us stand out is we are the only Level IV NICU in the state located within the same hospital as a high-risk birth center — Froedtert Hospital’s Birth Center is literally just a hallway away. Moms and babies can rest comfortably knowing this direct access provides them with the highest possible level of care all under one roof.

Everyone at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is committed to helping make Wisconsin’s kids the healthiest in the nation and that all starts in the NICU with the most fragile and vulnerable. This newly renovated unit sets a new standard of care in Wisconsin and enables our incredible NICU team to provide high quality, comprehensive care on an even greater scale.

On behalf of the entire neonatology team, I’d like to thank everyone who helped turn this incredible vision into a reality, especially our donors whose amazing generosity funded more than one-third of the project’s overall cost.

– Kara Schwobe, RN, BSN, NICU patient care supervisor, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin treats more than 700 infants each year, making us the busiest NICU in the state. We treat the most fragile newborns and provide the highest level of care. We are able to offer lifesaving surgeries to babies even before they are born, and do surgeries and procedures at the bedside when a baby can’t be moved.

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