THE WOODLANDS (September 18, 2017)

The Wooodlands staff celebrates Level three NICU designationMemorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center, a Baby-Friendly® Designated birth facility, and the only Magnet® recognized hospital in Montgomery County, announces another prestigious achievement: it has received official designation from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) as the first designated Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Montgomery County.

“Memorial Hermann The Woodlands is honored to be designated an official Level III NICU,” said Josh Urban, Senior Vice President and CEO of Memorial Hermann The Woodlands. “Receiving this designation confirms our hospital’s commitment to providing exceptional care to the babies and families throughout Montgomery County.”

The Level III designation reiterates Memorial Hermann The Woodlands’ ability to care for and address the needs of critically ill neonatal babies experiencing complex and congenital conditions. The NICU provides specialized treatment in a patient and family-centered care environment with an open visitation policy. The designation is the second highest ranking on the scale of I to IV, IV being the highest. As a Level III NICU, the hospital meets the strict quality and safety recommendations and guidelines for perinatal care established by the DSHS.

“The NICU has the ability to manage babies at all gestational ages, even the smallest that can possibly survive,” said Dr. David L. Weisoly, NICU Medical Director at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands and physician with Pediatrix Medical Group. “This state designation further acknowledges that we have all of the available resources. We have dedicated teams of specialists in the areas of neonatology, high risk maternal-fetal medicine, pediatric ophthalmology, pediatric cardiology, pediatric endocrinology, pediatric gastroenterology and liver disease, and pediatric neurology in order to provide the highest level of care for the sickest and tiniest babies right here in The Woodlands, servicing the entirety of Montgomery County. Expectant parents and those who have delivered these precious babies can rest assured they are in the very best of hands from the beginning of their pregnancy until their baby goes home, even if they are born ill or up to four months premature.”

The NICU team specifically is comprised of neonatologists, neonatal nurse practitioners, nurses, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, certified lactation consultants, neonatal dieticians, pediatric pharmacists, child life specialists, social workers, and chaplains working together to provide the highest level of care.

Memorial Hermann The Woodlands also offers the only comprehensive medical, developmental and therapeutic follow-up clinic for NICU graduates in the Greater Houston area, called The Preemie Place. “The Preemie Place, which has cared for approximately 650 children since its founding in 2015, ensures optimal growth and development of our NICU patients continue after they leave the hospital,” said Dr. Weisoly.

To gain the official Level III designation, Memorial Hermann The Woodlands' NICU had to meet a range of stringent standards, including: 24-hour, in-house coverage by specialized neonatology personnel; multiple experts and subspecialists available for the neonate, including pediatric radiologists, pharmacists, dieticians, and therapists; and a board-certified neonatologist available around the clock.

The team spent approximately one year preparing for the application process. Earlier this year, the Texas EMS, Trauma & Acute Care Foundation (TETAF) visited the hospital for an extensive two-day site visit which included: an in-depth review of the program’s policies, procedures, guidelines and quality improvement programs. This survey was extensive and the recommendations of the independent surveyors aid the State of Texas in the NICU level of care designation process.

Under House Bill 2636, Texas was required to develop and implement operating standards for neonatal and maternal levels of care as well as establish designations by March 1, 2018. The intent of this legislation is to ensure that neonatal intensive care units have the resources and expertise to provide high-quality patient care that will lead to the best outcomes for newborns and their families.