Contact the NICU
The NICU is open 24 hours per day/7 days per week, but please refrain from calling the NICU during shift changes (7 to 8 a.m. and 7 to 8 p.m.).
MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
3800 Reservoir Road., NW
Main Building, Third Floor
Washington, DC 20007
At MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, we follow a multidisciplinary care team approach to care. Our care team includes some of the best doctors and nurses in the country, as well as respiratory therapists, social workers, and other specialists with advanced training in intensive care for babies. We also practice family-centered care, which is based on a philosophy that makes you and your family key members of the team, contributing valued input into discussions and decisions about your baby’s care. We are focused on providing a continuum of care for mothers and pre-term babies through our collaboration with Obstetrics and Gynecological services and Maternal Fetal Medicine in addition to our level IV NICU services at MedStar Georgetown.
Parents of babies at MedStar Georgetown NICU's may ask questions of the staff at any time. Click here for some frequently asked questions.
- Prenatal consultations by a team of maternal fetal medicine specialists, adult and pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists, and neonatologists
- Comprehensive delivery room care
- Respiratory support for premature and full-term infants
- Developmental support, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and massage therapy
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
- Whole body cooling
- Neonatal transport support or Mobile Intensive Care
- Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) Center
Support Services for NICU Parents/Caregivers
While our dedicated medical team is taking care of infants in the NICU, we value a family-centered approach to care and provide support services for parents. At MedStar Georgetown, we understand how stressful it can be to have an infant requiring NICU care.
A social worker is assigned to each family upon admission to the NICU. The social worker can help with the stresses, plans, and decisions associated with an infant’s hospitalization; provide guidance on practical and financial matters; and assist the case manager with discharge planning.
In addition to your social worker, other specialists are available to help you and your family during your NICU stay, including:
Funded by the Juliet Grace Smith Foundation and Ava Potter Pilcher Foundation, a psychologist is available for free counseling by the bedside (individual and couples), brief assessments, and referrals for individuals and families. The psychologist can also see individuals and couples off-site at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Outpatient Psychiatry, 2115 Wisconsin Ave., NW. Most insurances are accepted. Please email: [email protected]
- Bennett D. Raak Family Support Specialist
Coordinates family support services and peer support in the NICU with a focus on family-centered care. Among the activities and programming that the family support specialist leads are Portraits for Preemies, Project Knitwell, transportation assistance, and family events throughout the year. Call 202-444-1653
- Lactation Services
Administers full-service breastfeeding support that includes counseling, education, evidence-based clinical management, and access to purchasing and rental of breastfeeding equipment. Call 202-444-6455
- Pastoral Care
Offers interfaith spiritual and crisis counseling, baptism, and other services. The chapel in the main lobby is open for prayer and reflection at all times. Mass and other services are performed regularly and televised throughout the Hospital on channel 2. Also, communion is available at the bedside if requested. Call 202-444-3030
- Patient Advocate
When needed, acts as a liaison between patients, physicians, hospital staff, and departments to improve communication and enhance quality of care. Call 202-444-3040
- Interpreter Services
Gives free, qualified medical interpreting in more than 175 languages, including American Sign Language, for all patient appointments, procedures, and admissions 24/7. Spanish and Arabic interpreting is available on staff; other languages are available within minutes through on-demand video and by phone. Call 202-444-1588
Family support staff, in collaboration with the medical team, provide ongoing support services, programming, and events for NICU families. The NICU also hosts an annual NICU Reunion for infants and children who have graduated from the NICU. Family support programs include:
- Family Events—During the holidays, NICU staff work together to organize special activities for NICU babies and their families. For instance, during Halloween, nurses create costumes for each NICU baby, professional pictures are taken of the babies in costume, and refreshments are provided for families. Baby milestones are also celebrated regularly with special announcements by the bedside.
- Portraits for Preemies—MedStar Georgetown Arts and Humanities program offers free portraits of babies weighing less than 1500 grams (3 pounds, 5 ounces). Sketches of babies are done weekly.
- Books for Babies—The Juliet Grace Smith Foundation gives free children’s books to parents/caregivers in the NICU. Reading the books not only creates memories but fosters language development and bonding for infants while in the NICU.
- Project Knitwell—Program volunteers provide a complimentary knitting beginner’s kit and teach families how to knit basic pieces for their babies including hats and booties. Volunteers spend time knitting with families bedside while in the NICU.
- Wellness Services—Meditation and yoga instructors are available for online sessions. Occasional in-person classes are also offered.
With input and generous donations from our former NICU families, we now have one of the most comprehensive NICU family centers in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. The family center is a space for all members of the immediate family - moms, dads, and siblings - to enjoy while visiting their babies in the NICU. The Michael Smith Liss and Lauren Lamb and Lauren Elizabeth Lamb NICU Family Support Center includes rooms such as:
- The Ryan and Angelina Freedman Family Lounge: a comfortable room with kitchen facilities designed for eating, relaxing, and spending time with other family members.
- The Leon Smith Liss and Maddox Smith Liss Sibling Play Area: a play area specifically designed for siblings. The play area offers comfortable and colorful kid-sized chairs, a television, and a wall-mounted game board.
- The Alexandra Smith Lipp and Jordan Lipp Refreshment Center: connected to the family lounge and is equipped with a refrigerator, microwave, and healthy snacks.
- The Smith-Kogod Family Parent and Infant Sleep Room and the Wrasse Family Foundation Parent and Infant Sleep Room: rooming-in facilities for parents/caregivers of NICU infants before discharge, as well as for parents/caregivers taking their infants home with medical equipment and medications. A nurse is available to supervise overnight stays of the infant(s) in these rooms.
- The Michelle Smith and Stacy Smith Liss Lactation Room: a private and peaceful space for lactation for mothers only. Here, mothers can pump milk, rest, read or just generally take a break from the bedside. For more information or to make a contribution, contact 202-444-0721 or [email protected] Gifts to MedStar Georgetown, a nonprofit organization, are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.
Prenatal Consultations by a Team of Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists, Adult and Pediatric Medical and Surgical Subspecialists, and Neonatologists
Some parents will know in advance that their infant may likely require care in the NICU. For instance, some mothers admitted with preterm labor or pregnancy induced hypertension may be on bed rest for several days to weeks at the Perinatal Center at MedStar Georgetown prior to delivery. In these situations, our team of maternal fetal medicine specialists, adult and pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists, and neonatologists will meet with you prior to your due date to talk through potential courses of treatment and answer any questions you may have.
Prenatal consultations allow patients and physicians the opportunity to develop a relationship and discuss plans prior to the infant’s NICU stay. The NICU and Perinatal Center at MedStar Georgetown believes in the importance of providing a continuum of care, from preconception to the first months of your baby’s life. This approach makes care more effective and less stressful.
Comprehensive Delivery Room Care
Comprehensive Delivery Room Care Sometimes, specialized care is required in the delivery room—either due to expected complexities or unexpected emergencies during labor. In these cases, our specialized NICU team is on hand to provide comprehensive delivery room care. Prompt, skillful care during the first moments of an infant’s life (an important period sometimes called “the Golden Hour”) can help achieve the best possible outcomes for both mother and baby.
Respiratory Support for Premature and Full-term Infants
We offer many types of respiratory support for infants who need help breathing including:
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which uses continuous, mild air pressure to help the baby breathe and prevent apnea
- High-flow nasal cannula, which uses heated and humidified oxygen to provide breathing support
- Improved modalities of conventional ventilation which synchronize with the infant’s natural breathing and provide just enough pressure to expand the lungs, minimizing injury to the lungs
- High-frequency ventilation, which uses a rate of breathing much faster than normal breathing
- Inhaled nitric oxide (iNo) therapy, which uses a gas called nitric oxide to relax and open the blood vessels surrounding the lungs. Because blood carries oxygen throughout the body, improving blood flow also restores oxygen supply.
Developmental support, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy
An occupational, physical, and/or speech therapist works with babies on oral feeding, positioning and movement, and other developmental needs they might have.
Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)
MedStar Georgetown has provided ECMO since 1985 and was the ninth program in the world to join the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO). Our NICU is one of the nation’s most experienced at providing this lifesaving treatment.
ECMO therapy uses a mechanical pump to provide heart and lung support to critically ill infants. The pump temporarily takes over the functions of these organs by moving blood and oxygen through the body. ECMO is most commonly used for infants with serious respiratory issues. During ECMO treatment, infants are closely monitored to evaluate heart and lung function. When the infant’s organs are functioning well enough that ECMO is no longer needed, the use of the mechanical pump is gradually reduced.
If your baby requires ECMO, you are in good hands with the MedStar Georgetown team. Our program’s clinical outcomes exceed ELSO’s international benchmarks for a range of diagnoses.
Whole body cooling
Whole body cooling uses a water-filled cooling mattress to reduce an infant’s body temperature and treat brain injury that can occur around the time of birth. Our NICU is the first in the region to offer whole body cooling for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). For optimal results, this treatment must be initiated within the first six hours of life. To begin treatment as early as possible, our team is ready to rapidly transport infants to our NICU by land or air.
Neonatal transport with Mobile Intensive Care
The NICU and Perinatal Center at MedStar Georgetown has the most advanced Neonatal and Perinatal Transport Service in the region—capable of transporting critically ill infants and pregnant mothers 24 hours a day, seven days a week via ground including high-frequency jet ventilator, inhaled nitric oxide, and whole body cooling as well as air mobile NICU.
The transport service, or mobile NICUs, are staffed by a three-member team of neonatal specialists—a nurse, respiratory therapist, and neonatology fellow or neonatal nurse practitioner. The transport team also maintains constant communication with a neonatologist. Each unit is equipped with advanced technology for respiratory support.
The neonatal transport service serves hospitals throughout the Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland regions, as well as outlying areas as far away as West Virginia. It can be requested with a single call to 844-877-2424.
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) Center
ROP is an eye condition that most commonly affects premature infants, particularly those born before 31 weeks of gestation. Premature babies born at MedStar Georgetown have extremely low rates of severe ROP, but we offer excellent care for infants who need it. The NICU and Perinatal Center at MedStar Georgetown is a renowned, regional referral center for the treatment of advanced ROP.
Our retinal surgeons can evaluate and immediately treat premature infants with ROP, including infants born at other hospitals. Eye specialists follow these babies closely during the NICU stay, as well as after discharge. With immediate care, the danger of vision loss due to ROP is greatly reduced.