February/March 2011

NCH is Now a Level III Perinatal Facility

Northwest Community Hospital is now designated as a Level III perinatal facility by the Illinois Department of Public Health, allowing the Hospital to care for premature infants of any gestational age, high-risk mothers, and babies with complications at birth.

“The Level III designation represents a continuation of our commitment to care for women and children in the northwest suburbs,” says Cindy Hartwig, director, Women’s and Children’s Services. She explains that the change to Level III means that many mothers and babies, who otherwise would need to be transferred, can now stay at NCH and receive expert care.

“New mothers won’t have to be separated from their babies,” Hartwig says. “Parents will be able to be a part of their baby’s care from day one—right here in their own community.”

Hartwig emphasizes that this is a perinatal designation, reflecting the care provided to mothers as well as their babies. “For years, we have partnered with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago to bring board-certified pediatric specialists to Northwest Community,” she notes. “To ensure excellent care for high-risk mothers, we also partner with the Maternal Fetal Medicine program at NorthShore University HealthSystem.” With offices in the Busse Center for Specialty Medicine, the physicians from the Maternal Fetal Medicine program are available on site to consult with NCH bbstetricians on high-risk pregnancies.

Neonatologist Joel Fisher, MD, medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), says the new Level III status further solidifies NCH’s reputation as an outstanding resource to people in the community. “Women who otherwise might have gone elsewhere for obstetrical care can remain at NCH, with the physicians they know and trust, completely confident that they—and their babies—will receive the best care possible,” he says.

Dr. Fisher explains that the new, state-of-the-art, 16-bed NICU provides the highest level of advanced care to critically ill newborns. Opening last year in conjunction with the South Pavilion addition, the NICU features large, all-private rooms—a rare benefit in newborn intensive care—that help to promote healing, comfort and a family’s ability to spend the night at their baby’s bedside. As part of the Level III designation, the Hospital also has added a neonatal pharmacist, respiratory therapists and a designated social worker to the perinatal program staff.

Newborns who need specialized surgery, such as open heart surgery, will continue to be transferred to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

Dr. Fisher notes that plans for the enhanced perinatal services have been ongoing for several years. “We couldn’t have done this without the sustained support of the Hospital’s administration, its Foundation, and the many people in our surrounding community who have shown their faith in us,” he says. “I am proud to have reached our goal of providing top-tier perinatal care.”

For more information, please contact Cindy Hartwig at 847.618.4210.