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 Zachary Kordik is thriving, thanks in part to NCH's Level III NICU.

Give Your Baby a Strong Start

To learn more about maternity services at NCH—or to register for prenatal classes or tours—click here.

The Little Things

NCH's Level III NICU offers highest level of care for tiniest patients

Life can change in an instant.

For Brynn Kordik that instant came on October 12, 2011, when nausea, blurred vision and cramping gave way to hemorrhaging. She was just starting her seventh month of pregnancy—and about to discover how critical finding the right hospital can be.

That evening, doctors at Northwest Community Hospital (NCH) delivered tiny 2-pound, 10-ounce Zachary Kordik and immediately admitted him to NCH's Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Staffed with experts in neonatology from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and equipped to care for even the tiniest preemies and multiples, the NICU offers 16 private rooms. In this specialized and comfortable setting, seriously ill newborns and their families can be together 24/7.

Born with a condition called patent ductus arteriosus, or PDA, little Zachary was critically ill. His condition caused his lungs to fill with fluid. Doctors told Brynn and Scott Kordik that their son would need surgery.

A Safer Surgery

The Kordik's subsequent roller coaster ride was NCH's moment of clarity. Joel Barry Fisher, MD, chief of Neonatology at NCH, says the NICU's cardiac surgery team had trained for just this moment. "We developed a team, sent everyone for special training, prepared, and performed several 'dry runs.'" After months of training, the team embarked on its first in-room NICU surgery—performed right in Zachary's private room under the direction of Hyde M. Russell, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon on staff at NCH and Lurie Children's.

Before NCH's designation as a Level III Perinatal facility, babies like Zachary would have been transferred to Lurie Children's at birth—a risky endeavor considering most preemies tolerate very little change in terms of temperature, touch and environment. "It's a safer strategy to have the surgeon come out to where the premature infant is," says Dr. Russell.

The Best Care, When It Matters Most

Today, Zachary is thriving and his parents couldn't be happier. In fact, they sit on the NICU Parent Advisory Council, a group designed to improve care by including parent-generated ideas into the decision-making process.

In the end, for Brynn, it all comes down to having confidence that your hospital offers the technology and expertise to handle neonatal emergencies—and then the compassion to help parents navigate the long road to recovery. Her advice for prospective parents? "Try to find a Level III NICU. Things can change in a heartbeat. We're glad we're so close to a great hospital that could treat a 27-week-old preemie."

Joel Barry Fisher, MD

Joel Barry Fisher, MD

Chief of Neonatology and Site Director of the NCH NICU
On staff at NCH and Lurie Children's

  • Board-certified: Pediatrics and Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
  • Medical School: University of Illinois
  • Residency and Fellowship: University of Minnesota

Hyde M. Russell, MD

Hyde M. Russell, MD

Cardiovascular thoracic surgeon on staff at NCH and Lurie Children's

  • Board-certified: Cardio/Thoracic/Vascular Surgery
  • Medical School: Wake Forest University School of Medicine
  • Internship and Residency: University of Chicago Medical School
  • Fellowship: Northwestern University Medical Center and Lurie Children's

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Last Updated 04/10/2009