Spokane Journal of Business

Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital attains top designation

Facility is second in state to be tabbed

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The neonatal intensive care unit at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital has received the American Academy of Pediatrics’ level IV designation, which the AAP describes as the highest level of care for premature and critically ill newborns.

Sacred Heart says in a press release it’s the second hospital in Washington state to receive the designation. Seattle Children’s Hospital was the first hospital in the state to attain level IV status.

 “Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital is proud the offer this highest level of complex neonatal care,” says Dr. Keith Georgeson, Sacred Heart’s division chief. “Babies who are born prematurely or with critical illness have immediate needs for highly specialized resources and experienced staff for optimal outcomes.” 

The AAP’s classifications for neonatal intensive care consist of four levels: basic care, level I; specialty care, level II; subspecialty intensive care, level III; and the advanced subspecialty care, level IV, that Sacred Heart attained.

For the level IV designation, an NICU must be capable of providing surgical repair for conditions that existed before or were acquired after birth. The NICU also has to maintain a range of medical and surgical subspecialists as well as anesthesiologists around the clock.

Tammy Powers, director for women’s services and executive director at Sacred Heart, says the NICU at Sacred Heart has nine neonatal ICU doctors and three mid-level ICU nurse practitioners on-site, with 28 different specialists on call at all times.

 The NICU also must fulfill all of the requirements of a level III designation, including providing life support, care for infants born earlier than 32 weeks of gestation and weighing less than 3.3 pounds.

The Sacred Heart NICU has 61 beds available for neonatal care. On average, about 50 of those beds are in use on a given day, Powers says, and roughly 30 percent of patients are referred to their NICU from other regional hospitals. 

  • Lucas Thayer

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