MercyOne Waterloo Birth Center verified as a Level III NICU

A baby born in 2023. TAMA-GRUNDY FILE PHOTO

WATERLOO – MercyOne Waterloo Birth Center was recently verified by the Iowa Perinatal Review Committee as a Level II Maternal Specialty Care unit and a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care unit.

The MercyOne Waterloo Birth Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is the only Level III in the area.

“Receiving care close to home is essential for everyone, especially for families celebrating the birth of an infant who needs extra care that only a NICU can provide,” said Erica LeClair, MD, neonatologist MercyOne.

Families who deliver at MercyOne Waterloo Birth Center do so in an Integrated Neonatal Intensive Care (INIC) setting. This innovative model of care allows for intensive care nurses, doctors and equipment to be available in the same room, keeping the family and infant together in one place. MercyOne’s INIC model is one of the few nationwide.

“Our INIC provides shared space for mom and baby to stay in the same room while they get care. The integration enhances family bonding, encourages hands-on care and involvement and allows for family-centered care that may otherwise be limited when the NICU is in a different area of the unit or hospital,” said Kymm Ehler, MSN, RN MercyOne Director, Women’s & Children’s Services, Ambulance.

Families who deliver at a different facility and need special care that cannot be provided can request to be transferred to MercyOne Waterloo Birth Center. A dedicated neonatologist will review the baby’s projected needs and determine if our unit best suits the infant. Our Neonatal Transport Team supports the baby during the move to our Level III NICU.

MercyOne Waterloo is dedicated to maternal and infant care, with the goal of families remaining close to their support network. Significant investments in expertise and equipment were made to meet Level III NICU criteria. Highlights include a high-frequency ventilator, establishment of a Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) program that allows for imaging to be obtained on-site with off-site interpretation, 24/7 neonatology coverage and a NICU transport team.

What does a Level III NICU do?

Provide and manage comprehensive care for high-risk neonates born before 32 weeks or weighing less than 1,500 grams (3.3 pounds).

Provide sustained life support.

Provide a full range of respiratory support, including mechanical ventilation.

Provide advanced imaging and interpretation.

Maintain a NICU transport team.

Provide retinopathy of prematurity program with image interpretation.

Provide access to a full range of pediatric surgical specialists, pediatric medical subspecialists, pediatric ophthalmologist and pediatric anesthesiologists.