Neonatal Awareness Month

While it is hard to see a loved one in the hospital, it’s especially difficult when it’s a small child – especially a newborn. But, Forrest General Hospital’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit makes things a little easier for new parents.

Most babies admitted to NICUs across the nation are preterm (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), have low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds), or have a health condition that needs special care. In the U.S., nearly half a million babies are born preterm, according to Stanford Medicine.

During September, Forrest Health is observing Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness Month to honor families experiencing a stay in the NICU and the health professionals who care for them.

Forrest General’s NICU cares for premature, underweight, and/or sick babies requiring the highest level of care after birth. The unit consists of 24 beds, divided between an intensive care unit, intermediate care nursery, and isolation room for critically-ill infants. The NICU is supported by four neonatologists, three nurse practitioners, and highly-skilled nurses, respiratory therapists, and acute and advanced care techs trained in neonatal care.

The FGH NICU is one of only a few in the nation to offer “family-centered care,” which means that parents can stay with their child at all times during their NICU stay. Each NICU bed is also equipped with a webcam so parents can stay connected with their newborns. The secure service is free to NICU families and can be accessed through a username and password. It also provides a way for loved ones who are too small or too far away to see your newest little addition.

Infants who are born prematurely or are very sick at birth are at risk for delays in their early developmental skills, motor skills, physical strength, and later learning abilities. That’s why Forrest General continues to monitor NICU graduates for two years through the Neonatal Follow-up Clinic — another part of the hospital’s comprehensive care provided to premature infants. Forrest General is the only hospital in Mississippi to offer the Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP.

The Forrest General Neonatal is home to a Transport Team which has the great responsibility of traveling to regional facilities in our 19-county area to bring at-risk infants back to Forrest General’s NICU. To meet the special needs of our tiniest patients Forrest General also has a specially-designed NICU transport ambulance.

During those first hours and days in the NICU, Forrest General’s team works tirelessly toward its mission to do what is best for the patient, even the tiniest, to make this special time for families just the beginning of a wonderful life.