Neonatal Intensive Care UnitLocations:
Our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) cares for sick and premature babies born at Mercy Hospital for Women, and babies from regional Victoria who require intensive care.
Neonatal Services cares for babies born sick or premature at Mercy Hospital for Women, as well as babies born elsewhere in Victoria who need intensive care. Neonatal Services includes the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Special Care Nursery.
Our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit cares for babies who are born sick or premature at Mercy Hospital for Women, as well as babies born elsewhere in Victoria who need intensive care. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit provides intensive care to the smallest and sickest babies, who often need help to breathe.
We are co-located next to the Special Care Nursery, which provides close observation and care for babies who are stable, and do not need help to breathe. Babies in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit may transition to a Special Care Nursery before they go home.
Mercy Hospital for Women is a major teaching hospital and specialist referral centre. We have 61 cots made up of 28 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit cots and 33 Special Care Nursery cots, which together are referred to as Neonatal Services. We are one of just four Neonatal Intensive Care Units in Victoria. We care for babies as young as 23 weeks gestation up to full term.
Find us at:
163 Studley Road
Heidelberg Victoria 3084
Mercy Hospital for Women level 2
How can people get access?
Take the main hospital lifts to level 2. Parents are provided with an after-hours swipe card to access the nursery while their baby is in hospital.
Parents may visit at any time. Visiting hours for family and friends are 10am–12pm and 6–8pm every day. Children aged under 12 are not allowed in the nursery, except for the baby’s own brothers or sisters.
Only two adults can be at a cot at any one time. This allows us to care for the babies safely.
Please note: visitors with coughs, colds, a runny nose or a temperature must not visit the nursery, as this puts our babies at high risk of severe illness.
What to do before
While some premature deliveries will be expected, others will happen due to an emergency. Your obstetric team will arrange for you to speak to a neonatal paediatrican before your baby’s delivery and admission to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
What to bring
When you and your baby arrive at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, we will give you an admission pack. The pack contains essential information, labels for expressed breastmilk, and forms to complete. Please complete the forms and return them to the nurse caring for your baby.
While your baby is in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, you will not need to bring clothes or nappies. However, if you have a special toy or blanket for your baby, please feel free to place it at your baby’s bedside.
When your baby is first admitted to the nursery, it can be hard to remember all of the information you receive. We will give you a booklet with important information on our hospital practices to read in your own time.
We welcome parents to come to the nursery, ask questions, or call at any time of the day or night. We do not think of parents as visitors and we encourage you to spend as much time as possible with your baby.
What to expect on the day
When your baby is first admitted to the nursery, it can be hard to remember all of the information you receive. We will give you a booklet with important information on our hospital guidelines to read in your own time.
Babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit are cared for by a large multidisciplinary team, including:
- a medical team consisting of a neonatal paediatrician (senior doctor), fellow and registrar (doctors training to be paediatricians). There is a medical team in the nursery 24 hours a day.
- opthalmologist (a doctor specialising in diagnosing and treating eye problems)
- specialised neonatal nurses, midwives and mothercraft nurses, who provide bedside care to all babies
- echocardiographer, who performs ultrasounds of the heart
- physiotherapist, who assesses and helps create programs for babies with developmental difficulties
- speech pathologist, who helps assess and treat babies who have problems feeding and swallowing
- dietitian, who helps assess babies with poor growth or increased energy requirements
- lactation consultants with experience in helping mothers of premature babies
- care managers, who help organise resources and support services for babies with complex needs
- discharge coordinators, who help organise a baby’s discharge from the nursery. This may be to a hospital closer to your home.
- social workers, who help parents with practical problems and offer emotional support while your baby is in the nursery. They can help rural families arrange accommodation closer to the hospital and provide travel assistance. They can link parents to local community support groups before you take your baby home.
- pastoral care workers, who provide spiritual and emotional support to families, no matter what religious or cultural beliefs you hold
- interpreters, who are available to translate information for families whose second language is English
- ward clerk, who looks after the administrative aspects of the nursery and can help with hiring breast pumps, securing car parking vouchers, and any other administrative aspects of your baby’s care.
What questions should you ask
We welcome parents to come to the nursery, ask questions or call at any time of the day or night. We do not think of parents as visitors and we encourage you to spend as much time as possible with your baby.
Premature babies are usually ready to go home around the time they reach full term, although this varies from baby to baby. Some premature babies may stay beyond their due date.
There is no special weight that babies must reach to be able to go home, but your baby must be feeding well and gaining weight, and you must be confident in giving your baby the care they need.
For babies born with problems at term, their length of stay in hospital depends on the nature of the problems.
Mercy Hospital for Women is a hospital for high-risk infants who need specialist care. Due to statewide demands on our services, we may need to move your baby to a local special care nursery closer to your home. This creates space for other babies who need to be in hospital for intensive care or specialist treatment.
We make the decision to transfer your baby to a local nursery in your family’s best interest.; it is a positive and exciting step towards getting your baby ready to be discharged home. Where possible, babies are transferred to hospitals where their birth was booked. Babies are transferred by the Paediatric Infant Perinatal Emergency Retrieval (PIPER) service. All babies are tended to by a trained neonatal transport nurse. Our discharge coordinators will explain the transfer process.
Some babies who are ready to leave the hospital will be transferred to our Hospital in the Home program (HITH). In this case, your baby will still be a patient of Mercy Hospital for Women, but the medical team has decided your baby is ready to be cared for at home. If your baby is transferred to Hospital In The Home, one of our nurses or midwives will visit you within 48 hours of leaving the hospital. Hospital in the Home will ring you on the morning of the visit to confirm.
Once your baby is discharged from the Hospital in the Home program, your local Maternal and Child Health Nurse will contact you to make an appointment to see your baby at home.
Opportunities to be involved in research
During your baby’s time in the nursery, research staff may ask you to be involved in a study or survey. Pregnancy and newborn research has improved the health of mothers-to-be and the survival, and overall health, of sick and premature babies. However, there are still a lot of questions to be answered.
We hope you consider participating in research and becoming part of the team helping to improve the health of future babies. However, you do not have to take part in research if you do not want to.
Who to call if you have concerns afterwards
While your baby is in the Hospital in the Home program, parents can call 03 8458 4466 from 7am–4.30pm with any questions or concerns.
For health professionals
Neonatal Services at Mercy Hospital for Women is a level 6 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and a tertiary referral centre for sick and premature infants.
Over 1,300 premature and sick infants are cared for at Mercy Hospital for Women each year. We care for infants admitted to the nursery within the first 28 days of life, with gestation as low as 23 weeks.
External referrals should be made through the Victorian Paediatric Infant Perinatal Emergency Retrieval (PIPER) service. Emergency referrals can be made by calling 1300 137 650.
Additional contact details
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
Mercy Hospital for Women level 2
163 Studley Rd, Heidleberg, Vic 3084
Phone: 03 8458 4710
Mercy Hospital for Women
163 Studley Road
Heidelberg Victoria 3084
- Austprem (Australia)
- Miracle Babies Foundation
- Australian Breastfeeding Association
- Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank
- Black Dog Institue
- Association for Children with a Disability
- Relationships Australia
- Australian Multiple Birth Association
- Red Nose
- Victorian Newborn Screening Program
- Australian and New Zealand Neonatal Network
- Victorian Infant Collaborative Study
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