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Newborns who need special or intensive care are often admitted into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center. Our Level III NICU is one of the most technologically advanced NICUs in the nine-parish Acadiana area with a capacity of 31 beds.

Caring for the tiniest patients requires a combination of precise skills, complex technology, specialized facilities and a caring, compassionate and knowledgeable staff. The NICU staff and physicians continually implement initiatives which improve patient care. The Ochsner Lafayette General Foundation has been involved in helping to provide a Total Body Cooling System for hypoxic infants, NICVIEW cameras and other innovations to continue the high standard of care required for our smallest patients.

Our caregivers include neonatologists Matthew Cortez, MD (Director of Neonatology) and William Smalling, MD Additionally, there are 7 full-time and 4 part-time neonatal nurse practitioners, pediatric subspecialist like pediatric cardiologists and gastroenterologists, as well as dedicated registered nurses.

In addition, Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center provides a team of other professionals including physical therapists, respiratory therapists, dietitians, lactation consultants, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, social workers and hospital chaplains.

We recognize that not all NICU patients need the same level of care; therefore, our plan of care is structured into three stages. As babies progress, they and their parents can transition to more independence and spend more time together. At each step, parents are educated how to care for their baby so that families are ready for discharge when that special day comes. Our lactation consultants are well versed in helping mothers provide nutrient-rich breast milk, even while baby is in the NICU.

For our NICU graduates that were born at less than 33 weeks, Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center offers a neurodevelopmental follow up clinic. This clinic allows our expert team of occupational and speech therapists to follow neurodevelopmental outcomes and provide parents and families with home education to continue to progress towards age-appropriate development.  

NICU Transport Team

When a newborn is in peril at another hospital, the NICU Transport Team of Ochsner Lafayette General rides to the rescue. The team is an emergency response crew that goes, at a moment’s notice, to nearby facilities requesting assistance with a sick or premature newborn beyond their scope of care. This voluntary group of RNs and respiratory therapists, must complete a 40-hour transport education course as well as having continuing education requirements. The neonatologist or extra nurses accompany the team when necessary.

Key Performance Indicators

Ochsner Lafayette General’s Level III NICU is committed to improving the quality and safety of medical care for newborn infants and their families. Our voluntary affiliation with the Vermont Oxford Network provides ongoing, real-time reviews of our outcomes, allowing us to identify areas of need and to objectively determine improvement strategies. A comparison to the network’s benchmarks reveals excellent outcomes in all key NICU performance indicators.

Learn more about Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center’s NICU performance trends.

Patient Care Initiatives

Since 2006, the NICU staff and physicians have implemented several initiatives which have hard-wired a new approach to patient care. They include:

  • Developed a collaborative Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program
  • Implemented formal, multi-disciplinary daily patient rounds
  • Created multiple task forces to
         * research nursing best practices
         * revise existing policies to reflect these best practices
  • Standardized the approach to patient care among all NICU health care professionals
  • Strictly controlled the use of blood transfusions
  • Minimized the routine use of antibiotics
  • Strictly controlled the use of supplemental oxygen
  • Changed the entire approach to ventilator care, resulting in decreased days on mechanical ventilators, decreased lung injury and significantly lower incidence of chronic lung disease
  • Decreased length of time with central umbilical arterial and venous catheters in place

Milk Bank Depot

The demand for human donor milk in hospital neonatal intensive care units (NICU) continues to rise across the country. To help meet the need for accessible donor breast milk in Acadiana, Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center opened the first milk bank depot in southwest Louisiana and third breast milk donation depot in the state.

Learn more about the Ochsner Lafayette General Milk Bank Depot.