Aspirus Offers Level III NICU

According to the National Library of Medicine, around 10 – 15 percent of all babies born in the US spend time in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).


September is NICU Awareness Month – a month designed to honor NICU families and the health professionals who care for them.


A NICU offers one of four levels of care, specializing in caring for ill or premature infants and newborns.


While in the NICU, specially-trained neonatal doctors and nurses work closely with other specialist to care for infants in need of advanced care after delivery.


Aspirus Health provides a Level III NICU at Aspirus Wausau Hospital (AWH) which delivers comprehensive care for more seriously ill newborns.


“At AWH we take in critical ill babies from all over the state. These very fragile and vulnerable patients need extra special care so that they can go home with their families as soon as possible,” says Emilie Puig, registered nurse and clinical educator in the NICU at AWH. “Whether a child stays with us for four hours or four months, we want the parents and child to feel as comfortable and assured as they can here.”


AWH has the region’s only single-family room model for critically ill babies, meaning parents can stay with their infant 24/7.


Each baby has different needs and it’s important that the hospital is prepared to aid in anything that may be. Hospitals in the United States that provide special nursing and medical care for babies are divided into four levels depending on the degree of care offered.


Level I (Well Newborn Nursery) care for:

  • Babies who are born on time (at about 40 weeks) who are stable (for example, they can breathe on their own and can maintain their body temperature)
  • Babies who are born at 35 to 37 weeks and are stable
  • Babies who are sick or born before 35 weeks, but only until they can be moved to a nursery with a higher level of care

Level II (Special Care Nursery) care for:

  • Babies who are born before 32 weeks or who weigh less than 3.3 pounds, but only until they can be moved to a nursery that provides a higher level of care.
  • Babies who have just gotten out of a neonatal intensive care unit (also called NICU) and are growing and doing well before being able to go home.
  • Babies who need equipment to help them breathe. These babies should stay in this kind of nursery only for about 24 hours or less; if they need breathing help longer, they should be moved to a higher level of care.

Level III (NICU) care for:

  • Babies who are born before 32 weeks who weigh less than 3.3 pounds
  • Babies of any age or weight who are critically ill.
  • Babies who need equipment to help them breathe to stay alive.
  • Babies who may need surgery. 

Level IV (Regional NICU) care for:

  • Babies who may need special surgery for birth defects and other disorders. 

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