The delivery of care to a sick newborn is a complex process. It involves a large team of expert individuals, some of whom are more visible to families, and others who are hidden behind the scenes. The team involves physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, dietitians, pharmacists and a number of additional support staff. Although we have a large team, we meet twice a day to discuss each and every baby. This allows us to make timely decisions about each baby’s care and provide an individualized care plan based on his or her needs.
The Gerber Foundation Neonatal Center is a Level 4 neonatal intensive care unit, which means we provide the highest degree of quality care for at-risk newborns. As a Level 4 unit, we are different from other units in that we are located within an institution with the capability to provide surgical repair of complex congenital or acquired conditions. In addition, we educate nursing students, medical students and medical residents. We are able to transport ill infants from outside hospitals. We also provide ongoing education for hospitals in our region in Michigan.
We are also one of the few neonatal centers in the country to have a designated space within the NICU for micro-preemies (babies born weighing less than two pounds). The small baby unit is designed specifically to meet the medically complex needs of these babies born at or before 27 weeks. All the staff working in this area have received extensive training in the complex care of these very fragile babies.
When medical needs separate a newborn baby from their mother, a new technology at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital can be used to bridge that gap. Our specialty telemedicine service helps to keep mom and baby connected even when they are miles apart. This service is available to mothers who are medically required to stay at one of Spectrum Health's regional hospitals.
A majority of the babies admitted to our NICU are born at Corewell Health Butterworth Hospital (part of Corewell Health Grand Rapids Hospitals). We work closely with your obstetrician or maternal-fetal medicine specialist. Often we are able to speak to parents prior to delivery, preparing you for the NICU stay.
Babies born outside Corewell Health Butterworth Hospital (part of Corewell Health Grand Rapids Hospitals) are transported in our unique ambulance. The vehicle is a mobile neonatal intensive care unit that has special supplies and equipment that will be used by the transport team to care for your baby. This team includes a neonatal nurse practitioner, a secondary transport nurse and a respiratory therapist. The team also includes a neonatologist who stays at the NICU to get ready for your baby’s admission. The person driving the ambulance is a specially trained emergency medical technician who helps the transport team. The transport team stays in contact with the staff back at the NICU and keeps them updated on your baby’s condition.
Occasionally we use a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft if needed due to distance or critical nature of the infant. The transport team consists of a neonatal nurse practitioner, specially trained transport nurse and respiratory therapist. One of our neonatal physicians is available at all times to provide direction by phone.
We collaborate extensively with Spectrum Health Medical Group's board-certified maternal fetal medicine specialists, who treat you and your growing baby at the same time. With advanced expertise and focus on high-risk or complex pregnancies, they partner with you, your family, and your doctors to plan and navigate the unexpected.