Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

As parents of a new baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, we want you to feel comfortable with us and know that we are here to help you. Helping parents and families deal with their questions and feelings is an important part of our job.

This web page will explain some of the routines and procedures used in the NICU. We encourage you to ask questions – and please remember, we are here to help you as well as your baby.

NICU Virtual Tour

As parents of a new baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, we want you to feel comfortable with us and know that we are here to help you. Helping parents and families deal with their questions and feelings is an important part of our job.

About the NICU

The NICU team is careful about protecting your baby’s confidentiality, as well as protecting your baby from infections people might bring in from the outside. We allow one visitor to accompany each parent with a maximum of two people at a time at each bedside. Visitors must be over the age of sixteen. If siblings (less than sixteen years of age) desire to come into the NICU, please contact your nurse for the healthcare questionnaire. A current copy of the sibling’s immunizations must be attached to the healthcare form.

Visiting Hours

We allow visiting 24-hours per day.

During special circumstances no visitors, including parents, will be allowed into the NICU. A sign will be posted on the front of the NICU to let you know if visitors are excluded.

Infection Prevention

To protect your baby and others in the NICU, we ask that you not come to the unit if you have a potentially contagious illness such as a cold, flu or other viral illness. Please inform the staff if you have recently been exposed to chicken pox, measles or mumps before you enter the NICU. If you have received the chicken pox vaccine in the past fourteen days or the nasal flu vaccine in the past twenty-one days, we ask that you do not come into the unit.

Cameras & Video Cameras

We encourage you to take pictures and video of your baby. Pictures and/or video may be taken by you, of your baby only. As a courtesy, we ask that you refrain from taking pictures/video of the hospital staff without their permission.

Telephone Calls

Parents may call the NICU anytime, 24-hours a day at: 805/652-5620. Your baby’s nurse may not be able to come to the phone right away, but will call you back as soon as possible. We ask that cell phones be turned off and not used within the NICU area. Information about your baby will be given only to you, the parents.

Contact Information

Please make sure that the NICU Team has all of the phone numbers that we may need to contact you. If your baby has any major changes, a member of the medical team will call you. If you do not have a telephone, please leave us the number of a neighbor or relative we can call in an emergency.

Who’s Who in the NICU

A group of medical doctors (MDs) called Neonatologists are in charge of your baby’s care. These doctors have special training in the care of premature and sick babies.

Registered Nurses (RNs)
RNs provide hands-on care for your baby. They have been specially trained to take care of premature and sick babies. They will explain procedures to you and teach you how to take care of your baby.

Respiratory Therapists (RTs)
RTs are trained to take care of any breathing equipment your baby may need.

Utilization Review Nurse (UR)
Our UR nurse helps you with insurance issues and facilitates your qualification for extra state funding.

Occupational Therapists (OTs)
OTs are trained to help you and your baby with developmental milestones. They will assist in education on feeding, comforting and caring for special needs. They also assess if you baby may need physical therapy or early intervention after leaving the hospital.

Social Workers
Our social workers are available to help you during your baby’s stay in the hospital. If you do not live nearby and need help finding a place to stay near the hospital, please let your baby’s nurse or your social worker know. Social workers are also available to listen to your concerns and help counsel you during your baby’s stay.

Unit Secretaries
Our Unit Secretary helps with the day to day operations of the unit. They will answer the phones, direct you to wash your hands and help show you where your baby is located.

Registered Dieticians
Our Registered Dieticians are healthcare professionals who specializes in reproductive nutrition, cardiovascular nutrition and the general health and wellness of your baby.

Our cuddlers are an important part of our NICU team. They are specially trained to give love and attention to the babies in this unit. They sit and rock your infant when you can’t be here.


Being a parent with a baby in the NICU can be difficult. You are being kept apart from your baby because he or she is a patient in the hospital. We want you, as a parent, to feel you have an important role to play. You may have many strong feelings like helplessness, fear, anger and possibly guilt. All of these feelings make adjusting to your baby’s stay in the NICU harder. Nurses, social workers, members of the clergy and doctors are available to talk with you about your concerns.

When your baby is well enough, the nurses will help you hold your baby and teach you how to change diapers, bathe, dress and feed your baby. Even though you may not be able to hold your baby right away, there are many things you can do:

  • Provide breast milk
  • Talk softly to your baby
  • Gently touch or cradle him/her with your hands
  • Make family part of your baby’s world by placing pictures of family on the crib
  • Siblings may draw pictures that we can place nearby

Other items you may bring for your baby are:

  • Small toys & stuffed animals
  • Compact music players or music boxes
  • A special blanket

Your baby may not be able to wear clothes right away because of IVs and other equipment. Parents may bring in little undershirts, a nightgown, booties and hats that can be kept in the isolette, waiting for the day your baby can be dressed. Please speak with your nurse to find out when your baby will be ready for clothes.

“Kangaroo Care” Skin to Skin Holding

Our NICU supports the practice of “Kangaroo Care”. Kangaroo care, also known as “skin to skin” holding, can be a special part of your baby’s NICU stay. We will encourage you to hold your baby “skin to skin”. When your baby is stable enough to be held, we ask that you change into a patient gown or wear a shirt that buttons down the front. We then place the baby directly on your chest. You and your baby are wrapped with a blanket and monitored for comfort. Most babies stay warm, grow faster and tolerate feedings better when kangaroo-ing. You and your baby’s nurse will discuss a good time to start this wonderful bonding experience.

People Make the Difference

The highly-trained staff at Community Memorial Hospital provides you with years of experience and expertise when meeting your personal medical needs. This is your special time, and in order to make your stay pleasant, a comfortable, supportive, and caring environment will be provided.

We are staffed and equipped to give you and your baby the finest care possible. At Community Memorial Hospital, our NICU team utilizes the latest medical advancements to give you peace of mind.

Common Medical Terms in the NICU

Medications used to treat infections.

Common to premature babies; the baby does not breathe for short periods of time.

Bili Lights
A light over the baby’s isolette or warmer used to treat jaundice (yellow skin color).

A blood product that comes from the normal breakdown of red blood cells. It can cause a yellow coloring (jaundice) of the skin.

Blood Gas
A test using the baby’s blood that tells how well the lungs are working.

When the baby’s heart rate is slower than normal.

Refers to the heart.

A small thin tube used for giving fluids and medications or withdrawing fluids (urine or blood).

CPAP – Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
A way of giving a certain amount of pressure and/or oxygen to help keep the lungs open.

Also known as Dusky, cyanosis is a blue coloring of the baby’s skin caused by low amounts of oxygen in the blood.

Puffy looking: when fluid gathers under the baby’s skin. Often seen in the eyelids, hands and feet.

Body salts, such as sodium and potassium.

When the breathing tube is taken out.

The area on the baby’s head where the bones have not grown together. This is normal.

A way of feeding the baby milk or formula by putting a small plastic tube through the nose or mouth into the stomach.

A small prick of the baby’s heel to get blood for testing.

IV – Intravenous
A tube or needle that is put in a vein in the baby’s hands, feet or scalp to allow fluids, medications or blood into the baby’s bloodstream.

Intubation – Intubate
Putting a small plastic tube into the baby’s trachea (windpipe) to help the baby breathe.

A closed, heated bed with small round doors for touching or handling the baby.

A unit of weight. One kilogram = 2.2 pounds.

Fine soft hair on the skin of a new baby.

The baby’s first stool; usually a sticky, greenish-black color.

An extra heart sound.

A baby during the first month of life.

A physician that specialized in the care of premature and sick newborns.

Nothing by mouth. When the baby is not allowed to eat.

Respirator – Ventilator
A machine that helps the baby by sending air and oxygen into the baby’s lungs at just the right rate and pressure.

RDS – Respiratory Distress Syndrome
A breathing problem caused by a baby’s lungs inability to make surfactant.

ROP – Retinopathy of Prematurity
A condition that affects the eyes of premature babies. An eye exam is done at about six weeks of age in the NICU to check for ROP.

Saturation Monitor
A machine that records the baby’s oxygen level.

A chemical made by the lungs to coat the inside of the air sacs so the lungs can fill with air.

Refers to the navel or belly button.

Vital Signs
The heart rate, rate of breathing, temperature and blood pressure.