AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - From premature birth to various health conditions, neonatal intensive care units make a world of difference for newborn babies.
"These are infants that need additional care beyond just the normal newborn," Douglas Coffey, Chief Nursing Officer at Northwest Texas Healthcare System. "They need additional technology and expertise to sustain their life in early stages."
Northwest Texas in Amarillo is becoming a state leader in such care, thanks to the hospital's new designation as a Level III NICU from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
"A lot of work goes into that designation. We've been working on this for about the past three years," said Lisa Strickland, Director of The Children's Hospital at Northwest. "You had to put a lot of processes in place, a lot of quality initiatives went into place."
Though it has operated as a level-three hospital for years, the road to this official state designation for The Children's Hospital at Northwest incorporated much of the hospital's staff.
"The entire hospital has been involved in this. It's not just the NICU," said Strickland. "The ancillary departments are involved in this, the OR's involved, the lab's involved."
As a result of the level-three designation, the neonatal intensive care unit will be required to have 24-hour in-house coverage by special personnel, as well as board-certified neonatologists available around the clock.
The NICU helps treat a variety of conditions in newborns and maintains a close connection with their family members.
"The extreme premature infants are a majority of our patients but any baby that requires intensive care after being born gets the best care in our unit," said Dr. Muhammad Subhani, Director of the NICU at Northwest.
"The family is involved, as well," said Coffey. "Whether it's visitation, access, information, they need to be part of that experience within the hospital."
Amarillo now boasts two hospitals with such accreditation. Baptist St. Anthony's received its designation in 2017.