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The Area's Most Fragile Babies Have a New Home

Children’s National Moves 28 Newborns into State-of-the-Art Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Washington, DC (Vocus) May 19, 2009 -- Twenty-eight fragile newborns have a new home at Children’s National Medical Center. The 54-bed, state-of-the-art Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) opened Sunday, May 17, when the babies were transported from the existing NICU. At 35,000 square feet, the new NICU is approximately four times larger than the old unit.

“This is a dream come true for our staff, patients, and families,” said Billie L. Short, MD, Chief of Neonatology at Children’s National. “This NICU was designed with input from our families, nurses, and medical care team members, and we couldn’t be more proud of this unit.”

The 54-bed NICU at Children’s National is the only Level IIIC NICU in the region, the highest distinction available by the American Academy of Pediatrics. That ranking is conferred on NICUs that, among other cutting edge services, offer ECMO (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation or heart/lung bypass).

Other features of the new NICU include:
o   Family-centered care approach to the design of each room
o   46 single patient rooms along with 2-4 bed pods providing family support and privacy
o   Eight beds designated specifically by the neonatal neurology team for more intensive care and focus on neurological monitoring
o   Remote EEG monitoring in all beds
o   Negative pressure isolation capabilities, in designated isolation rooms
o   Two family waiting areas, one designed for extended family with a sibling play zone. The other is a quiet room available for reading or meditation
o   Two parent transition sleep rooms with private bath, allowing parents to spend the night with their child pre-discharge to better prepare to go home
o   Refrigerator at each bedside for storage of breast milk – allows even very premature babies who use nasogastric (NG) tubes to eat while they are still growing
o   Dim lighting, soothing colors and a quiet atmosphere to account for developmental needs

Dr. Short is part of the national cadre of neonatologists credited with “solving” the issue of lung development complications due to prematurity or injury at birth. Children’s National is now focused on neuroprotection, to protect the brain and ensure that fragile newborns get the best chance at a solid start once they leave the NICU. Children’s is the region’s only NICU with a dedicated brain protection team. The team is pioneering innovative therapies, including whole body cooling to protect neurological function in newborns who have suffered a lack of oxygen during or just after birth. These cutting edge practices and excellent outcomes have earned Children’s NICU a top 10 ranking by U.S. News & World Report.

“This new facility enhances the unrivaled care offered by the NICU team at Children’s National,” said David Wessel, MD, Senior Vice President of the Center for Hospital-Based Specialties at Children’s National. “We’re proud to open the doors to this new facility to provide the best care possible for the patients and families who rely on us.”

Patients needing neonatal intensive care may be transported by Children’s National’s dedicated Transport Team, which includes the hospital’s own helicopter (SkyBear).

Contact: Emily Dammeyer, Jennifer Leischer, Public Relations: 202-476-4500.
Media note: photos and video footage of the move are available. Contact the Public Relations Department.

Children’s National Medical Center, located in Washington, DC, is a proven leader in the development of innovative new treatments for childhood illness and injury. Children’s has been serving the nation's children for more than 135 years. Children’s National is proudly ranked among the best pediatric hospitals in America by US News & World Report and the Leapfrog Group. For more information, visit


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