CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has been accredited as a Level III NICU by the Texas Department of State Health Services — the only Level III NICU in the region. 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 NICUs.
In 2015, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3433 which required hospitals with delivery services or children’s hospitals with a NICU to meet certain regulations and to apply for state designation as Level I, II, III or IV nursery/NICU. 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 a lengthy application, meeting the regulations for a specific level and an on-site visit by a state-approved survey team.
“We are very pleased to receive our official three-year designation from the State of Texas recognizing our adherence to the highest standards and rigorous best practices of a state-of-the-art NICU,” says
Susan Keeney, M.D., medical director of the NICU.
Care Close to Home
“NICU babies can have prolonged hospitalizations, often three to four months in length,” says Rebecca Barr, MSN, RNC-NIC, clinical director of the NICU. “Having a Level III NICU in Texarkana helps keeps families together. To transfer a baby out of the area for specialized care means that the mother and baby are separated from the rest of the family and the support system.”
For Taniya Johnson, having a NICU close to home was a huge relief. Taniya had her first premature child in Little Rock, and she experienced the struggle of living hours away from her new baby. When her second child, Da Khylin, was born at 28 weeks gestation weighing only 1 lb., 14 oz., Taniya was so relieved to have the exceptional care provided at CHRISTUS St. Michael’s Level III NICU just minutes away from her home and work.
“I was able to go to work and then be at the hospital within minutes of being off work,” Taniya says. “I’ve been so blessed to spend so much time with my baby during his time in the CHRISTUS St. Michael Level III NICU. It was a great experience.”
“We have an opportunity to provide excellent care to babies right here in Texarkana, close to home for the members of our community,” Rebecca says. “This translates to better bonding, better breastfeeding outcomes, and happier babies, parents, siblings and extended families.”
Level III Designation
A Level III designation recognizes that CHRISTUS St. Michael meets quality and safety guidelines from the Department of State Health Services. To qualify, CHRISTUS St. Michael provides 24-hour, in-house neonatal nurse practitioner or 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, linking them to other hospitals around the region.
“This designation means that the state has verified our claim that we are providing Level III neonatal care,” says Jannice Phillips, MSN, MHA, RNC-OB, administrative director of Women and Children Services. “It is a marker of excellence that can help offer peace of mind during a very difficult time.”
The CHRISTUS St. Michael NICU team includes 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, nurses, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, certified lactation consultants, neonatal dieticians, a nurse educator, social workers, pharmacy staff, case management support, chaplains and other specialists creating a continuum of care for ill newborns.
“We’re very proud of our NICU team who has been working hard to make sure our NICU meets the highest standards in the State of Texas,” says Jason Rounds, FACHE, CHFP, president, CHRISTUS St. Michael. “This designation acknowledges that CHRISTUS St. Michael has all of the available resources and is committed to providing highly specialized care for newborns and their families.”
The NICU team dedicated extensive time, talent and resources to earning this designation to ensure CHRISTUS St. Michael remains a leader in neonatal care across Northeast Texas and the Ark-La-Tex area. State-approved surveyors visited the hospital’s NICU for an extensive two-day, on-site survey, which took an in-depth look at the program’s policies, procedures and quality-improvement programs.