Longview, TX – CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Medical Center - Longview’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the first NICU to open in the Northeast Texas region, has been officially re-accredited as a Level III NICU by the Texas Department of State Health Services. This three-year designation acts as official recognition of the facility's commitment to meeting the requirements of national and state standards for Level III neonatal ICUs.
In 2015 the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3433 which required hospitals with delivery services or children's hospitals with a NICU to meet stringent regulations and to apply for State designation as Level I, II, III or IV nursery/ICU. The State regulations were designed to mirror national guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The designation process includes filling out a lengthy application, meeting the regulations for a specific level, and an on-site visit by a State approved survey team.
The hospital’s NICU, soon to enter its 17th year, has received a full, three-year designation recognizing the facility adheres to the highest standards and rigorous best practices of a state-of-the-art Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
"We are delighted the state survey validated the outstanding care we provide our babies and their families," said Christopher Ihionkhan, M.D., NICU Medical Director. "This should be reassuring to families whose babies require care in our NICU. We are proud of the excellent services we have that meet national and state regulation and allow us to provide the same quality of care that is often found only in larger metropolitan cities."
A Level III designation recognizes that CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Medical Center - Longview meets quality and safety guidelines from the Department of State Health Services. To do this, CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Medical Center - Longview provides 24-hour, in-house neonatal nurse practitioner or community-based neonatologist coverage, maintains the equipment and resources necessary to care for infants born at all gestations, is capable of prolonged ventilator use, and has a specialized NICU Transport Team that can provide high frequency ventilation and nitric oxide support to the extremely sick or premature infant while in transport, linking them to other hospitals around the region.
"This re-designation means that we are able to keep providing the same high level of care to our community which allows our babies and their families to remain close to their support systems." said Eric Chen, M.D., NICU Transport Director.
The CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Medical Center - Longview NICU Team is composed of a range of specialized clinicians, nurses and physicians all working together to provide the highest level of care for patients. The NICU Team includes neonatologists, neonatal nurse practitioners, specialized registered nurses, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, certified lactation consultants, neonatal dietitians, pediatric pharmacists, nurse educator, social workers, case managers, chaplains and other specialists who collaborate care with families to create a continuum of care for ill newborns to remain near home. For those families who have infants that transfer to our NICU, we are proud to provide live-stream viewing of their baby by our secure NICVIEW camera system. The NICU is also equipped to offer telehealth capabilities to conference with specialist for infants requiring those services.
“This is a phenomenal achievement which enables us to care for our babies and their families close to home,” said Suhel Patel, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, and CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Health System.
In preparation over the past 3 years, the NICU team has been preparing for this designation to ensure that CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Health System remains a leader in neonatal care across East Texas. The hospital’s NICU was visited by state officials for an extensive 2-day, on-site survey which took an in-depth look at the program’s policies, procedures and quality-improvement programs.
“Having a sick or premature infant is a very emotional experience for a family,” said Dr. Ihionkhan. “Continuing to have a Level III NICU here in Longview means that a family can remain close to their infant, continue working, and involve the extended family in the care of the infant more readily. This allows for better bonding between parents and newborn, improved milk production and enhanced breastfeeding for mom, and a more stable family life.”