Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU)

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is part of St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, but it's located at its partner hospital across the street at St. Joseph's Women's Hospital. We also have a Level III NICU at Mease Countryside Hospital and a Level II NICU at Winter Haven Women's Hospital and Morton Plant Hospital.


Our 76-bed NICU provides the highest level of care as designated by the American Academy of Pediatrics. A Level IV NICU can provide the most complex level of neonatal care including surgical repair of congenital or acquired conditions and immediate on-site access to pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists and pediatric anesthesiologists. A highly skilled and experienced nursing team and physicians board-certified in neonatology provide care around the clock 24/7 for premature newborns and those born with conditions requiring special care.

The unit is busy; more than 1,200 infants a year are admitted and stay anywhere from several days to four or five months, depending on their medical condition. The types of medical challenges treated in the unit include:

  • Pre-term birth as young as babies born at 23 weeks gestation and weighing less than 1 lb.
  • Babies born with an infection
  • Babies who are stressed during birth and need more attention than in the newborn nursery
  • Babies born with a congenital anomaly such as spina bifida, bowel conditions and heart defects
  • Babies that require a higher level of care than given in traditional Mother/Baby units.
  • Babies who need "cooling" for diagnosis of Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy.

Unique Services

  • Our single room NICU is one of the first units in Florida where parents have a private area within baby's room, to sleep, shower or watch TV. Beautiful window views enhance the coziness.
  • BayCare has a Breast Milk Donor Program which provides nutritious human breast milk to babies in the NICU, if mom cannot provide her own milk.
  • Premature babies always receive a hearing and developmental assessment to determine the need for additional services such as rehabilitation before they go home. Should developmental or medical follow-up be required, arrangements are made prior to the baby's discharge.  
  • In order to establish a relationship before the baby leaves the hospital, the family's pediatrician may become involved in the baby's care shortly before discharge. This makes the transition home better for the baby and easier for the parents. 
  • Our NICU Support Group knows having a baby in the NICU can often times be scary and overwhelming. While the focus in on your baby, we strongly encourage you to care for yourself. Coming to the group is a great way to start! This group is open to all families who have a baby in the NICU. This is a time for you to talk with other families who are in similar situations and receive the support you need and deserve.
  • Our NICU Welcome Class will help you get oriented to the NICU and introduce you to the roles of the healthcare team, explains basic NICU terminology and identifies parents' expectations while your baby is in the NICU. We will cover the importance of hand washing and discuss the NICU routine. The class is recommended within the first 5 days after admission.
  • Through infant massage, you will learn how to help your baby improve their breathing, strengthen their immune system, relieve constipation and much more. You will learn the benefits of touch and massage for you and your baby. This class is open to all NICU parents.
  • BabyWatch: We offer scheduled webcam time for you to see your infant and feel connected when you can't physically be together. This is made possible with the encrypted Blue Jeans Meeting (BJM) application using our NICU iPads.

Who’s Who in the NICU

  • Neonatologist: A pediatrician who has special training in the care of sick and premature newborns.
  • Pediatrician: A doctor who treats infants and children.
  • Pediatric Surgeon: A surgeon who operates on infants and children.
  • Cardiologist: A doctor who cares for people with heart problems.
  • Clinical Pharmacist: A pharmacist who has special training in medication therapies used in sick and premature newborns.
  • Gastroenterologist: A physician who cares for people with stomach and bowel problems.
  • Geneticist: A doctor who studies birth defects and their causes.
  • Hematologist: A physician who studies and treats blood problems.
  • Ophthalmologist: A doctor who treats diseases of the eye.
  • Neurologist: A physician who treats brain and nerve problems.
  • Neonatal Nurse: A nurse with special training in the care of sick and premature newborns.
  • Respiratory Therapist: A therapist with special training in the care of respiratory compromised premature newborns.
  • Discharge Nurse: A nurse who will help plan and prepare your baby's discharge home.
  • Cuddlers: Volunteers who are trained to hold, cuddle and feed your baby when you are not able to visit.
  • Clinical Social Worker: A social worker who helps families cope with the emotional and practical issues of hospitalization.