Special care nurseryLocations:
Neonatal Services 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.
The Special Care Nursery provides close observation and care for babies who are stable and do not need help breathing.
Mercy Hospital for Women is a major teaching hospital and specialist referral centre. We have 61 cots, mad up of 28 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit cots and 33 Special Care Nursery cots. Mercy Hospital for Women Neonatal Services cares for newborn babies as young as 23 weeks’ gestation up to full term. We have one of just four Neonatal Intensive Care Units in Victoria and a multidisciplinary team consisting of doctors, nurses, care managers, social workers and many more disciplines.
Find us at:
163 Studley Road
Heidelberg Victoria 3084
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.
We are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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 prior to your baby’s delivery and admission to the Special Care Nursery.
What to bring
When you and your baby arrive at the Special Care Nursery, 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.
What to expect on the day
When your baby is first admitted to the Special Care Nursery, it can be hard to remember all the information you receive. We will give you a booklet with important information on our hospital guidelines to read in your own time.
Throughout your experience in the special care nursery, you may be supported by:
- Nurse Unit Manager, who is in charge of the unit
- Associate Nurse Unit Manager, who organises each shift within the unit
- Clinical Nurse Specialist, who is an expert in their field
- registered nurses, midwives and mothercraft nurses who all specialise in caring for premature and sick newborn babies
- care manager, who organises resources and support services for babies with more complex needs
- discharge coordinator, who organises your baby’s discharge from the nursery. This may include contacting hospitals closer to your home.
- consultant/neonatologist/paediatrician who are senior doctors with special qualifications and advanced training in caring for newborn babies
- fellows and registrars, who are qualified doctors who are training to become paediatricians. There is at least one consultant, fellow and registrar in the unit, 24 hours a day.
- interpreter, who can translate information for families whose second language is English
- lactation consultant, who can give you breastfeeding advice, support and help. They are available on weekdays
- dietitian, who can help your baby get the calories and additives they need to grow
- ophthalmologist: this is a doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating eye problems
- pastoral carer, who offers spiritual and emotional support. They can offer prayer, blessings or the sacramental ministry of baptism when it is requested for a baby. They offer support to all parents, no matter what religious or cultural beliefs you hold.
- physiotherapist, who assesses and creates programs for babies with developmental difficulties. They can also help with movement or muscle tone problems. Physiotherapists can teach parents about baby massage and handling your baby.
- speech therapist, who can help assess and treat babies who have problems feeding and swallowing
- social worker, who can help parents with practical problems and give them emotional support while their baby is in the nursery. They can help rural families find longer-term accommodation closer to the hospital and provide travel assistance. They can help link parents to community support groups in your local area before you take your baby home.
- ward clerk, who looks after the administrative aspects of the nursery and can help you with hiring breast pumps, car parking vouchers and any other administrative aspects of your baby’s care. They are located near the lifts on level 2.
- Clinical Nurse Educator: as a teaching hospital, they educate all staff in the nursery to ensure safe and effective, high-quality care
- clinical support nurse, who supports staff in the clinical area to ensure safe and quality care.
What questions should you ask
We welcome parents to come to the Special Care 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 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 (HITH) program. 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 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
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 at Mercy Hospital for Women each year. We provide 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
Special Care Nursery
Mercy Hospital for Women, Level 2
163 Studley Rd, Heidleberg Vic 3084
Phone: 03 8458 4730
Mercy Hospital for Women
163 Studley Road
Heidelberg Victoria 3084
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