Visiting Your Baby

young girl looking at a new born baby

Contact the NICU

202-444-TINY (8469)
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.).

Our Location 

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital 
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
3800 Reservoir Road., NW
Main Building, Third Floor
Washington, DC 20007

COVID-19 special visitations guidelines are in place. Please contact the NICU for the current visitation policy.

As a parent/caregiver, you can stay with your baby whenever you want, for as long as you want. Our doors are open 24 hours a day except during shift changes (7 to 8 a.m. and 7 to 8 p.m.).

The parent/caregiver must accompany each visitor, with no more than two people at the bedside at a time.

You may take pictures or videos of your baby whenever you wish as long as other NICU families or babies as well as NICU staff are not in the photo or video.

Sibling Visits

We encourage you to keep your baby’s brothers and sisters updated about their sibling’s progress. Sibling visits can help young children understand why the baby cannot come home, where you are spending your time, and prepare them for their new role as big sisters or brothers. Pictures and books are another good way to help explain how the baby is doing. Parents/caregivers must accompany siblings 18 years and younger at all times while at the Hospital.

Nevertheless, young children can easily develop misconceptions about what is happening. Talk to your children about what they saw and heard while in the NICU and answer any questions they may have about equipment, noises, or how their little brother or sister looked.

All siblings must be current on all immunizations. An immunization record must be shown on the sibling’s first visit and validated by a physician, nurse practitioner, or registered nurse in the NICU. If siblings are not current on immunizations, they will not be able to visit the NICU. Please note that at certain times of the year, such as flu season, sibling visits may be restricted.

Cuddler Volunteers

The NICU Cuddlers program provides special training to volunteers, who under the supervision of nurses, provide unhurried quiet time holding babies when parents/ caregivers cannot be present in the NICU. Volunteers are carefully vetted and then trained to provide comfort and emotional well-being to NICU babies. If you have questions or concerns about the Cuddlers program, please do not hesitate to let your baby’s nurse know.

Things to remember

 

ID bracelet

On your first visit to the NICU, you will receive a bracelet identifying you as your baby’s parent/caregiver and indicating your baby’s medical record number. Please keep this bracelet on you when you visit. You will also be asked for a portion of this number when you call for information about your baby.

Cell phones

Please silence your cell phones when entering the NICU, and do not use them while holding your baby. Please clean cell phones in the waiting area located outside the NICU doors before coming into the NICU and wash your hands after each cell phone use.

Quiet time

Your baby has set rest times and care times which the nurse will communicate to you. Please note that each baby has his or her own schedule; consult with your nurse as to the appropriate times to hold and practice kangaroo care with your baby.

Safety precautions

To protect the babies in our NICU, the health status of all visitors, including siblings, will be checked. Parents/caregivers must submit a vaccine record for their other children before their first visit. Visitors must be free of sore throats, colds, fevers, or other contagious illnesses. They also must not have been exposed to infectious diseases, such as chickenpox, during the previous four weeks.

As an additional precaution, all parents/caregivers, siblings, and visitors must wash their hands and arms thoroughly at the sinks located outside the NICU doors before visiting their baby. Complete instructions for proper washing are posted at the sinks.

Resources

Services

Patient Stories 

NICU FAQs
Parents of babies at MedStar Georgetown NICU's may ask questions of the staff at any time. Click here for some frequently asked questions.  

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Visiting Your Baby

As a parent/caregiver, you can stay with your baby whenever you want, for as long as you want, with a few exceptions.

Contact Our NICU

Our family-centered NICU and Perinatal Center offers expert care for critically ill newborns and mothers. Contact us at

202-444-8469

Level IV NICU Center

We provide the highest level of care--advanced surgical treatments, transport capabilities, and outreach education.

Why Choose Us

Why Choose MedStar Georgetown University Hospital for Neonatal Intensive Care?

The MedStar Georgetown NICU hosts an annual NICU Reunion and holiday-themed family events as part of the support services offered to families of the NICU.
The MedStar Georgetown NICU hosts an annual NICU Reunion and holiday-themed family events as part of the support services offered to families of the NICU.

 

 

Contact the NICU

202-444-TINY (8469)
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.).

Our Location 

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital 
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
3800 Reservoir Rd., NW
Main Building, Third Floor
Washington, DC 20007

The NICU and Perinatal Center at MedStar Georgetown is recognized as the only Level IV NICU with a birthing center in the District. This designation means that we provide the highest level of family-centered care--complete with advanced surgical treatments, transport capabilities, and outreach education. 

Comprehensive Care

Our NICU’s team works closely with obstetricians, maternal fetal medicine specialists, and pediatric medical and surgical specialists throughout MedStar Georgetown, allowing for truly comprehensive care.

We believe in the importance of providing babies and mothers with an uninterrupted continuum of care, spanning from before pregnancy to follow-up care in the months after delivery. You can find all of the services you need right here at MedStar Georgetown. Our seamless system allows your entire medical team to collaborate and consult with each other, reducing stress for you and your family and providing you and your baby with the best possible care.

Expert Care—for All of Your Baby’s Needs

Whatever care your infant needs, our multidisciplinary team is equipped to help.

The NICU team includes:

  • Neonatologists
  • Neonatal fellows
  • Neonatal residents
  • Neonatal nurse practitioners/physician assistants
  • Magnet® recognized neonatal registered nurses
  • Respiratory therapist
  • Occupational therapist, physical therapist, and speech therapist
  • Dietician
  • Lactation consultant
  • Psychologist
  • Case manager
  • Social worker
  • Family support specialist
  • Spiritual support

Family-centered approach

In a family-centered approach, the medical team and support staff are available to help families during their NICU stay. We believe that you are an integral part of the care team and should be supported and educated throughout your time with us. For this reason, we will always encourage you to participate in your baby's care to the greatest extent you are comfortable to do so.

Because we understand how stressful it can be to have an infant requiring NICU care, we provide many resources to help you. The NICU has many family support services including:

NICU Babies dressed up for Halloween
Photo credit: Laurence Genon

  • Occupational, physical, and speech therapists who can work with you on oral feeding, positioning and movement, and other developmental needs your baby might have.
  • Lactation consultants who can assist with breastfeeding and pumping.
  • Psychologists who can provide you with free, brief interventions, assessments, and referrals in the NICU. We understand that families with babies in the NICU can experience a high amount of stress. We have a psychologist on site to provide psychosocial support.
  • A social worker who is assigned to every family upon admission to the NICU. Social workers can help you with the stresses, plans, and decisions associated with your baby’s hospitalization, including guidance on practical and financial matters and assist case managers with discharge planning.
  • A family support specialist who can provide you with resources and education to meet your unique emotional needs as parents and/or caregivers in the NICU.
  • Spiritual support, including a hospital chaplain, are available during routine visits to the NICU and for your spiritual/religious care and emotional support. At your request, your nurse can also contact leaders of other faiths who are affiliated with the Hospital. In addition, you are welcome to bring religious leaders in from your own spiritual community to provide support.

Comprehensive NICU Family Center 

The newly renovated NICU is one of the most comprehensive family spaces in the greater Washington, D.C., metropolitan region.

The Michael Smith Liss and Lauren Lamb and Lauren Elizabeth Lamb NICU Family Support Center includes:

  • The Ryan and Angelina Freedman Family Lounge
  • The Leon Smith Liss and Maddox Smith Liss Sibling Play Room
  • The Alexandria Smith Lipp and Jordan Lipp Refreshment Center
  • The Smith-Kogod Family Parents and Infant Sleep Room and the Wrasse Family Foundation Parent and Infant Sleep Room
  • The Michelle Smith and Stacy Smith Liss Location Room

These areas will allow your family the opportunity to find a calm moment and connect with other families going through similar experiences. We also provide two rooming-in facilities for parents/caregivers of NICU infants before discharge, as well as for parents/caregivers taking their infants home on medical equipment and medication.

Baby-Friendly-Hospital-LogoDesignated Baby-Friendly Hospital

MedStar Georgetown was the first hospital in the District to be designated a certified Baby-Friendly Hospital as recognized by the D.C. Breastfeeding Coalition. Full-service breastfeeding support including counseling, education, evidence-based management, and access to purchasing and rental of breastfeeding equipment is available for you in our NICU. We also provide pasteurized donor breast milk for mothers who have not yet produced their own milk.

Specialty and Follow-Up Services

The MedStar Georgetown NICU and Perinatal Center is committed to helping your infant leave the NICU healthy—and remain healthy in the months and years to come. MedStar Georgetown offers a range of specialty centers and follow-up services. These include a Neonatal Follow-up Clinic, Developmental Evaluation Clinic (DEC), medical and surgical subspecialty clinics, and an Aerodigestive Clinic.

At the Forefront of Training and Research

Our team is passionate about caring for the most vulnerable infants—both those under our care today, and those who will be born in years to come.

MedStar Georgetown is a leader in neonatal training and research. We have an active research program that contributes to the advancement of knowledge in caring for sick infants. Our Neonatal Perinatal Medicine Fellowship Training Program offers subspecialty training for future neonatologists, and our Neonatal Resuscitation Training Program (NRTP) is a training center for physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals throughout the region

NICU Patient and Family Advisory Council for Quality and Safety (PFACQS)

Central to our commitment of family-centered care, the NICU PFACQS is an advisory group made up of family members of former NICU parents as well as current NICU staff, all of whom play an important part in helping the NICU continuously improve. In this way, the group aims to promote quality, safety, and efficiency, and achieve the highest standards of family-centered care.

  • Promoting patient and family advocacy and involvement;
  • Providing feedback that addresses patient safety, quality of care, and/or patient service issues;
  • Strengthening communication and collaboration among patients, families and other caregivers, professional staff, and associates;
  • Facilitating information sharing between MedStar Georgetown NICU and the patients, families, and community it serves;
  • Helping to establish organizational priorities in response to patient, family, and community needs.

To learn more about the NICU PFACQS, please contact Marta Pernas, Bennett D. Raak Family Support Specialist, at 202-444-1653.

Resources

Visitation Policy

View information about visiting your baby, sibling visits, Cuddle Volunteers, and things to remember 

Patient Stories 

NICU FAQs
Parents of babies at MedStar Georgetown NICU's may ask questions of the staff at any time. Click here for some frequently asked questions.  

Services

new born baby in the NICU with a doctor checking on the baby

Contact the NICU

202-444-TINY (8469)
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.).

 

Our Location 

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.

NICU Services

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Perinatal Center at MedStar Georgetown provides family-centered care for critically ill full-term and premature newborns with complex care needs.

Support Services

Having your child in the NICU is stressful. Along with your social worker and medical team, we provide other specialists and support services for you and your family.

Transitional/Follow-Up

As the region’s only comprehensive neonatology follow-up clinic for high-risk infants, our staff provides services babies may continue to need after leaving the NICU.

Resouces

Visitation Policy

View information about visiting your baby, sibling visits, Cuddle Volunteers, and things to remember 

Patient Stories 

NICU FAQs
Parents of babies at MedStar Georgetown NICU's may ask questions of the staff at any time. Click here for some frequently asked questions.  

NICU Services 

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:

  • Psychologist
    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:

Mother and Father's Day events hosted by the Juliet Grace Smith Foundation
Mother's and Father's Day events hosted by the Juliet Grace Smith Foundation

  • 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 Ryan and Angelina Freedman Family Lounge
    The Ryan and Angelina Freedman Family Lounge
  • 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.

Conditions

new born baby in the NICU

Contact the NICU

202-444-TINY (8469) 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.).

Our Location 

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital 
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
3800 Reservoir Road., NW
Main Building, Third Floor
Washington, DC 20007

The family-centered Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Perinatal Center at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital offers expert care for critically ill newborns and mothers. Our compassionate and caring team understands that parents are likely to feel stressed or scared when their newborn requires NICU care. We are with you every step of the way.

We treat the following conditions

Conditions during pregnancy:

Conditions in newborns:

 


Conditions during pregnancy

There are a number of conditions that can be diagnosed during pregnancy. The Perinatal Center at MedStar Georgetown can help manage these condition(s) during pregnancy while the NICU provides the appropriate level of care to the newborn after delivery.

Prematurity and multiple births

About 10 percent of all children in the U.S. are born before 37 weeks. Multiples are at the highest risk for premature birth of all newborns. About 50 percent of twins are born before full term, and the rate is even greater for higher-order multiples such as triplets.

Singletons can also be born prematurely. This is sometimes correlated to maternal health complications during pregnancy, but in many cases, there is no clear cause.

Premature infants often have low birth weight and may be born with underdeveloped organs or vulnerable immune systems. These babies may require care in the NICU, including:

  • Monitoring to ensure healthy heartbeat, breathing, temperature, and blood pressure
  • Assistance with feeding or breathing
  • A controlled environment to decrease risk of infections
  • Temperature regulation inside an incubator
  • Treatment for jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • Treatment of respiratory or heart problems
  • Premature infants in the NICU also receive treatment for any of the conditions listed below in the ‘Conditions in Newborns’

We understand that having a premature baby can feel overwhelming, and our expert team is here to provide compassionate and expert care. Our multidisciplinary medical team has allowed us to achieve excellent survival rates that exceed national averages for preterm infants born as early as 23 weeks gestation. We are also proud to have low rates of complications that can be common in preterm infants. The NICU and Perinatal Center at MedStar Georgetown will ensure that you and your baby will be in the best of hands.

Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)

IUGR is a condition that is typically diagnosed during pregnancy. Babies with IUGR have a lower-than-expected weight for their age.

Infants with IUGR may require care in the NICU. We help babies with IUGR get healthy and reach a safe weight before going home with their families by providing personalized, precision nutrition.

Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and may be associated with signs of liver or kidney dysfunction. Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious complications for you and your baby. Often, the most effective treatment is delivery of your baby at or before term. HELLP syndrome is a life-threatening pregnancy complication usually considered to be a variant of preeclampsia. Both conditions usually occur during the later stages of pregnancy, or sometimes after childbirth.

Complications Secondary to Maternal Conditions

Maternal and infant health are closely related. Maternal diabetes, thyroid disorders, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and cancer are among the conditions that can require specialized care for both mother and baby, during and after pregnancy. At MedStar Georgetown, our broad range of adult and pediatric medical and surgical specialties allow us to provide truly comprehensive care.

Conditions in newborns

Special care is available for babies in the NICU who require intensive medical attention after delivery. We also offer psychosocial support for mothers and families for the stress they can experience with having a baby in the NICU.

Breathing problems

Newborns may experience breathing issues brought on by underdeveloped lungs, infections, birth defects, or difficulty during labor. Breathing problems may be treated with mechanical ventilators, medication, or surgery. We offer many types of respiratory support including CPAP, high flow nasal cannula, conventional ventilators, high-frequency jet and oscillatory ventilators, and inhaled nitric oxide therapy. We also offer comprehensive, multidisciplinary post-discharge follow-up care.

  • Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS): Most common in premature infants, RDS is a condition caused by an insufficient amount of a substance called pulmonary surfactant in babies’ lungs.
  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD): BPD is a condition seen in premature babies who have had RDS and needed ventilation. Babies are sometimes sent home on oxygen and need additional treatments for reactive airways.
  • Meconium aspiration syndrome: Full-term babies can develop severe breathing problems due to inhaling meconium (an infant’s first stool) during the process of labor. Babies with this condition may need a lot of support with breathing. We can provide several different forms of ventilation, including high-frequency ventilation and inhaled nitric oxide therapy. For babies who need additional support, we offer Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation(ECMO) to support breathing until their lungs recover.
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) and diaphragmatic hernia: When babies are in the womb, they receive oxygen from the placenta. At birth, blood vessels in the lungs should expand and allow blood and oxygen to flow normally. When this transition does not happen, a serious breathing condition called PPHN can occur. PPHN is sometimes associated with a birth defect called diaphragmatic hernia.
  • Apnea: Premature babies often have long pauses in their breathing or apnea. Apnea can cause a decrease in their oxygen levels (desaturation or “desats”) and/or a decrease in heart rate (bradycardia). This condition usually improves as babies mature. In the NICU, babies with apnea are monitored to ensure that they continue to breathe. Babies may require treatment with caffeine which stimulates the breathing center. We also offer ongoing follow-up care.

Hyperbilirubinemia (Jaundice)

Infant jaundice is yellow discoloration of the newborn baby’s skin caused by the buildup of bilirubin in the body. Bilirubin is a yellowish substance made when a baby breaks down red blood cells. Infant jaundice usually occurs because a baby’s liver isn’t mature enough to eliminate bilirubin in the bloodstream. In some babies, an underlying disease may cause jaundice. Jaundice is typically treated with phototherapy by using blue fluorescent lights that change bilirubin in the bloodstream to a form that can easily pass out of the body and help lower bilirubin levels.

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and other neurological and developmental problems

HHIE is a type of brain injury triggered by reduced blood flow and oxygen to the brain, or asphyxia. HIE is sometimes caused by maternal health problems, complications during pregnancy, or complications during delivery.

In the NICU, babies with HIE receive rapid, expert care. Treatment focuses on supporting impaired organ function and may include the use of mechanical ventilation, control of seizures, and whole body cooling. MedStar Georgetown is the first hospital in the region to offer whole body cooling, an innovative and effective treatment to reduce brain injury.

Additionally, the NICU at MedStar Georgetown is well-equipped to provide treatment for a range of other developmental and neurological issues, including neonatal stroke. Our extensive medical and surgical team is always available to care for babies rapidly and effectively.

Bowel obstruction and other gastrointestinal tract problems

The bowel (intestines) plays an important part in the digestive process. Infants are sometimes born with congenital abnormalities or develop infections that affect the healthy functioning of the bowels.

Common types of bowel conditions seen in the NICU include:

  • Bowel obstruction due to congenital abnormalities in the development of the small or large intestine.
  • Bowel perforation, a condition in which a hole in the stomach or intestines allows food or stool to leak into an infant’s abdomen. This can cause infection and inflammation.
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a serious inflammatory condition of the bowel most common in premature infants.
  • Gastroschisis and omphalocele, birth abnormalities in which an infant’s intestines are partially located outside of the body.

Treatment for bowel conditions depends on individual health needs. Some infants may only need medication or nonsurgical therapies, while others may require surgical procedures for more acute conditions. In fact, MedStar Georgetown is home to a nationally recognized transplant center for patients who may require this level of care. Our team carefully assesses each patient’s needs to deliver the appropriate care.

Genetic conditions

A genetic condition is caused by mutations in the genes or abnormalities in the number of chromosomes. Some of the genetic conditions seen in the NICU include Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, phenylketonuria (PKU), spina bifida, trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome), trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome), and Turner syndrome, among others.

Prenatal screening can help determine the risk of many genetic disorders. Our perinatal care teams offer advanced diagnostic testing that allows for accurate diagnosis prenatally and after delivery.

When a child is born with a genetic condition, he or she may require care in the NICU. Our geneticists work with families to provide tailored guidance and support for a variety of genetic conditions, symptoms, and severity.

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

ROP is an eye condition that most commonly affects premature infants, particularly those born before 31 weeks of gestation. ROP is caused by abnormal development of blood vessels in the tissues behind the eye and can lead to blindness if not treated appropriately. However, due to the excellent care available for premature babies at MedStar Georgetown, severe ROP rates are extremely low (especially when compared to other NICUs).

Some infants with ROP require only monitoring during and after a NICU stay. Other infants may require more intensive treatment. Our team of pediatric ophthalmologists and retinal surgeons carefully monitor premature babies to prevent ROP and are able to provide advanced care as needed. We offer the most current treatments to reduce the risk of vision impairment or blindness including anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy, laser therapy, and retinal surgery.

 

If additional information is needed, please contact your medical provider.

Resources

Visitation Policy

View information about visiting your baby, sibling visits, Cuddle Volunteers, and things to remember 

Patient Stories 

NICU FAQs
Parents of babies at MedStar Georgetown NICU's may ask questions of the staff at any time. Click here for some frequently asked questions.  

Hematopathology

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is staffed with two board-certified hematopathologists  (Dr. Metin Ozdemirli and Dr. Bhaskar Kallakury) that are responsible for the diagnosis of hematologic disorders, which include benign and neoplastic disorders of  blood cells, bone marrow, nodal and extranodal lymphomas and histiocytic disorders. Comprehensive analysis using morphology, flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, electron microscopy and molecular pathology  according to the complexity of the cases  allows timely diagnosis and treatment of  patients by Lombardi clinicians.

Director

  • Dr. Metin Ozdemirli, Professor, Department of Pathology, Director of Hematopathology; Program Director, Hematopathology Fellowship

Phone: 202-784-3614

Location

3900 Reservoir Rd, NW
Med-Dent Bldg SW 201
Washington, D.C. 20007

Surgical Pathology

Our Surgical Pathology department services all areas within Medstar Georgetown University Hospital including the Operating Rooms, Labor and Delivery, and Endoscopy. We provide integrated pathology services to offsite MedStar Health locations including Lafayette Centre and MedStar Brandywine. Our laboratory includes Pathologists’ Assistants (PA’s), PA students, and pathology residents who are trained to perform accurate and timely evaluation and processing of all pathological specimens. Our PA’s and residents perform a variety of responsibilities including gross examination, dissection, description, specimen radiography, specimen photography, intraoperative consultations including frozen sections, tissue banking, and triaging of specimens. The laboratory personnel will obtain patient clinical history, describe the gross presentation of the tissue, and prepare the tissue for processing for light microscopy evaluation. Tissue is obtained in collaboration with multiple departments for flow cytometry, electron microscopy, immunofluorescence, and research. MedStar Georgetown University Hospital prides itself on its commitment to academic research through its participation in the tissue processing for hundreds of research cases per year.   

For imformation on submitting a case to the Department of Surgical Pathology, please contact the pathology customer service officer at (202) 784-3614.

Directors

Phone: 202-444-3620
Fax: 202-444-0343

Location

CCC Building, OR level, room COR88
3900 Reservoir Rd NW,
Washington D.C 20007

Neuropathology

The Neuropathology service is led by Dr. Brent Harris and offers full diagnostic laboratory services to support the MedStar Health network.  Institutional and consult surgical pathology services are available for CNS/PNS tumors and other lesions including coordination for advanced molecular testing.

In addition, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital functions as a full muscle and nerve diagnostic laboratory. Muscle biopsy helps to identify unexplained muscle weakness, fatigue and elevated CPK, and distinguish between dystrophies, metabolic myopathies, inflammatory myopathies, and neurogenic myopathies. Nerve biopsies can assist with diagnosis of CIDP, vasculitis, amyloidosis, and other neuropathies. Muscle and nerve biopsy tissues can be sent to MedStar Georgetown using our easy-to-use kits that are sent to you free of cost. We accept all of MedStar Georgetown biopsies as well as consults from around the country.

Services Include:

  • Clinical evaluation
  • Tissue preparation
  • Pathological interpretation including advanced histochemistry, nerve teasing, and electron microscopy

To request a muscle/nerve biopsy kit, contact the neuropathology lab at least 48 hours before the muscle biopsy is collected at (202) 687-4282. Biopsies are accepted Monday through Friday. Turnaround time is 7 to 10 days.

Additional neuropathology services such as CNS biopsy, autopsy consultations, and brain biobanking are available from the Georgetown Brain Bank. For more information about diagnostic services provided please contact the Department of Pathology at (202) 784-3614

Director

  • Dr. Brent Harris

Phone: 202-784-3614
Fax: 202-687-8935

Location

3900 Reservoir Rd NW,
Washington D.C 20007

Molecular Diagnostic Laboratories

The Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory (MDL) at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is a comprehensive multidisciplinary division including the Immunohistochemistry (IHC), Flow Cytometry, Fluorescence In-Situ Hybridization (FISH), and Molecular operations.

The IHC section comprises a wide variety of markers used for the histogenetic diagnosis of morphologically non-differentiated neoplasias, subtyping neoplasias, and the characterization of primary site of malignant neoplasias. Offered in the IHC section as well are a set of predictive markers that contributes towards surgical and therapeutic conducts of some diseases.

The flow cytometry section is focused on Leukemia and Lymphoma Immunophenotyping using the 6-color FACS Canto platform. The distributed nature of the hematopoietic system makes it amenable to flow cytometric analysis. Many surface proteins and glycoproteins on erythrocytes, leukocytes, and platelets are tested with a variety of antibodies, in addition to antibodies against intracellular proteins such as myeloperoxidase and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase.

The FISH section plays an important role in detecting specific biomarkers in solid neoplasms such as ALK-1 gene rearrangement in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) and HER-2 for Breast Cancer.

The molecular operation is divided into four major sections:

  • The molecular hematopathology section offering assays for the diagnosis and prognosis of lymphoid and myeloid neoplasms by capillary electrophoresis, and monitoring Minimal Residual Diseases (MRD) by Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).
  • The molecular oncology section offering assays for the detection of specific mutations in key genes in Lung Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, and Melanoma by Real-time PCR.
  • The molecular virology section offering a long list of assays to monitor the viral loads of several infectious diseases by Real-Time using a combination of FDA-approved and analytically validated Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs).
  • The molecular genetics section offering molecular coagulation assays by Real-Time PCR.

To inquire about sending samples to our laboratory for testing please contact the Pathology Customer Service Office at (202) 784-3614.

Technical Director

  • Joeffrey Chahine

Phone: 202-784-3614

Histology

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Department of Pathology’s Histology Laboratory offers both routine H&E staining, Immunofluorescence for Renal and Dermatopathology, and special stains.  We provide special staining for Cytology, Dermatopathology, Hematology, and slide preparation for molecular and ancillary services. 

To inquire about sending slides to our facility for staining, please contact the department’s customer service office at (202) 784-3614.

Director

Lab Supervisor

  • Jose de Guzman

Phone: 202-444-7730

Location

3900 Reservoir Rd, NW
Washington, D.C. 20007