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Children's Hospital
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U.S. News & World Report NeonatologyNeonatal Intensive Care Unit: NICU

The birth of a baby is an exciting and joyful time, but sometimes unexpected and serious complications arise during pregnancy or after birth that require specialized care.

Our 53-bed NICU is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report. We're located on the 7th floor of our hospital and provide the latest diagnostics and treatment options for premature babies and sick infants.

As part of UVA Children’s Hospital, the UVA NICU gives you access to hundreds of specialists, advanced technology and current research around the clock, as well as compassionate and family-NICU doctorscentered care.

Neonatology at UVA

Our NICU is the region’s most advanced neonatal intensive care unit and serves as a referral center for premature and sick newborns. 

Years of experience and ongoing training prepare us to stabilize newborns with life-threatening conditions, treat infections and breathing problems, care for premature infants and coordinate care of infants with surgical or other complex needs.

NICU Care Team

Our neonatology care team includes:

  • Neonatologists (pediatricians with additional training and certification in newborn intensive care)
  • Neonatal nurse practitioners (nurses with additional training and licenses in newborn intensive care)
  • Nurses specifically trained in neonatal care
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Occupational and physical therapists
  • Infant speech and language pathologists
  • Infant educators
  • Breastfeeding consultants
  • Social workers and chaplains
  • Child life specialist to help families cope with the stresses of hospitalization

NICU Services

Our comprehensive services for infants and families includes the following:

  • Pediatric heart surgery for congenital heart disease
  • Newborn Emergency Transport System (NETS) staffed with medics, nurses and respiratory therapists that provides ground or air transport from other medical facilities
  • Diagnostic capabilities for complex medical problems and genetic disorders
  • Attention to nutritional needs to promote healing and growing
  • Heart, surgery, neurology, urology and other specialists
  • Respiratory therapists and the most advanced ventilators available for neonates
  • Social services for emotional support and other assistance (lodging, insurance, etc.)


We offer ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) to support heart and lung function in infants with cardiorespiratory failure. Babies showing no improvement on a respiratory ventilator may benefit from the procedure, which works much like a heart-lung bypass machine. During the procedure, the baby’s blood is filtered through the ECMO machine, which puts oxygen into the blood and returns it to the body. This oxygenated blood is pumped by the heart into the body’s other organs and tissues.

Newborn Emergency Transport System (NETS)

As home to the region's most advanced neonatal intensive care unit, we often get referrals of premature or critically ill infants who were born at other hospitals throughout Virginia, West Virginia and other states. Our Newborn Emergency Transport System (NETS), staffed with medics, nurses and respiratory therapists, transports these tiny patients by ground or air to UVA for specialized care in the NICU.

Discovering New Treatments for Infants

We are leaders in driving changes to neonatal care. With informed parental consent, we have opportunities for participation in scientific trials aimed at helping the littlest and most at-risk patients. Our dedication to improving care for premature and critically ill newborns helps give our patients the best outcomes possible.

Parenting in the NICU

When a baby is born prematurely or with serious medical complications, parents often feel helpless, overwhelmed, and anxious.

At UVA, parents are a valuable member of their baby's health care team. Parents participate in the medical rounds each day in the NICU. This means when doctors, residents, nurses and medical students come to the baby's station to discuss care and treatment, parents join in.

The NICU is open to parents 24 hours per day. You may visit any time it's convenient for you. There may be times when the NICU is unavailable due to procedures or interventions, but we try to do our best to accommodate all families.

Parents may also bring family members and friends to the bedside. Siblings may visit with parents. We ask that any person with a fever or symptoms of an infection stay outside the NICU.

The NICU has the Klockner Family Suite available for parents to "room-in" and take care of their child before discharge. These rooms, with a private bathroom, fridge, bed and television, allow parents to care for their baby with the added benefit of knowing that staff are nearby if questions or concerns arise.

We welcome suggestions and ideas about the care of your baby. Get suggestions on parenting a baby in the NICU.

Why Breastfeed?

Breastfeeding is so important to babies, especially premature and sick infants who receive many health benefits.

Even moms who don’t plan to breastfeed are encouraged to pump breast milk, which has healing qualities that are unmatched by formula.

Some benefits of breast milk are:

    • Promotes growth
    • Digested easily, promoting the maturity of baby's digestive system
    • Provides antibodies to help reduce the risk of infection

Find out more about breastfeeding your NICU baby.

Schedule a NICU Tour

If you know you’ll need our NICU services ahead of time, you can meet with a neonatologist and tour the NICU before your baby is born.

We want you to be prepared and comfortable.

Call 434.924.2335 to set up a tour.

Learn About an Invention That Helps Preemies

Thanks to a heart monitor invented at UVA, doctors can detect early warning signs for infection in preemies. Find out more about this invention for preemies.

Find Out About Our Fetal Heart Program

UVA has a comprehensive Fetal Heart Program.

That means moms with at-risk babies can deliver in the same hospital where their little ones will receive care.