Neonatal Intensive Care Unit saves lives at Porter Regional Hospital

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High-risk births: Porter Regional Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit is just steps away from the nine labor and delivery suites and two obstetric operating rooms. | File Photo

Most parents don’t anticipate problems with their delivery or their baby.

Yet even typical pregnancies can result in unanticipated high-risk births and babies with special needs. According to the March of Dimes, about one in 10 babies will require intensive medical care immediately after birth. This care takes place in a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, a hospital facility designed specifically for the care of premature or ill newborns. Porter Regional Hospital in Valparaiso houses an advanced Level II+ Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) that can care for infants of any gestational age, providing specialized expertise and equipment needed to care for and stabilize high-risk newborns.

Porter’s NICU is located just steps away from the nine labor and delivery suites and two obstetric operating rooms and features 14 individual and private rooms for newborns.

According to Elaine Merkel, director of Porter’s Women & Children’s Pavilion, a specialized NICU increases your baby’s chance of surviving. “Last year, Porter’s NICU had a 100 percent survival rate, and overall it’s 99.9 percent,” Merkel said.

“We often see babies who are struggling at birth and our neonatologists and trained nurses make a huge difference. Delivering at a hospital without a NICU can change outcomes,” she added.

Porter’s NICU is the only one available in Porter County, and the only NICU with all private rooms in Northwest Indiana -- and that can be a determining factor for families deciding on where to deliver their baby according to Merkel. “We know that delivering at a hospital with a skilled neonatal team available can make all the difference for your baby if a problem does arise. When a NICU is on-site, parents can rest assured that their baby receives the best care without the need to separate the infant from parents and family. It can make a big difference in a child’s beginning.” Porter, she added, is dedicated to family-centered communication and care and allows families of NICU patients to be part of its weekly multidisciplinary rounding with physicians and staff.

Merkel also noted that traveling to a different facility can be traumatic for families and hard on their entire support network. “I can’t tell you how often I have heard statements like ‘I wouldn’t have been okay with my baby being taken to another hospital,’ ” Merkel said.

“The advantage of being close to your child and your support network cannot be overemphasized,” she added.

Provided by Porter Regional Hospital