CORPUS CHRISTI – The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Driscoll Children’s Hospital has been redesignated a Level IV NICU, the highest level of care available for premature and critically-ill newborns, by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). In 2017, it was the first Level IV NICU in South Texas to receive the state designation and remains the only one in our region.
Redesignation must be reviewed every three years, and hospitals undergo a rigorous process in order to maintain the distinction of being a Level IV facility. Driscoll’s NICU was officially redesignated in early May, 2020 following a site visit conducted by the Texas EMS Trauma & Acute Care Foundation (TETAF) in November 2019.
“It’s a long process, with much give-and-take as the site conductors and hospital staff work together to ensure the highest standards are maintained,” said Chris Joyal, BSN, RN, CPN, Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Driscoll Children’s Hospital.
According to Joyal, it is the teamwork of the dedicated NICU staff that holds everything together.
“The excellent care the NICU staff provides is shown daily in our quality outcomes and patient satisfaction scores,” said Joyal. “It takes a village to coordinate the care of our tiniest patients and it reflects every day as we watch them heal, grow and go home with their families. The patience, compassion and caring touch each NICU staff member brings to the table is what makes our program such a success.”
There are 232 Designated Neonatal Facilities in Texas. Driscoll is one of 21 with the Level IV designation, and the only one in South Texas.
“We are pleased that our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit received the Level IV recertification from the Texas Department of State Health Services. At Driscoll, we are proud to offer the highest level of care for the most fragile neonates in South Texas,” said Eric Hamon, President and CEO of Driscoll Health System.
“We feel very honored for the recertification and are so appreciative at many levels for the teamwork from all the disciplines, ancillary and administrative staff that made this happen,” said Miguel DeLeon, MD, Medical Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Driscoll Children’s Hospital.
Texas requires NICUs to undergo a site visit to verify the level of care provided to patients meets the Neonatal Levels of Care classifications as defined in the Texas Administrative Code. It also requires programs be recertified every three years.
The Levels of Care legislation was passed in 2013 to ensure neonatal intensive care units have the resources and expertise to provide high-quality patient care that leads to the best outcomes for newborn patients and their families.
“The NICU Levels of Care designation is important for Corpus Christi and South Texas families because it provides the assurance that comprehensive medical care is available for their premature or sick babies, right in their backyard,” said Trish Carr, PhD, RNC-NIC, NEA-BC, Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Driscoll Children’s Hospital. “Staying near home and family is a crucial part of the healing process.”
Driscoll Children’s Hospital serves an area of South Texas that covers 31 counties and 33,000 square miles, more than any Level IV NICU in Texas.
“As the largest and only Level IV NICU in South Texas, Driscoll Children’s Hospital has a commitment to serve our community through quality, evidence-based medical care and to provide outreach education and support to our NICU partners,” said Carr.
To learn more about Driscoll Children’s Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, go to www.driscollchildrens.org/specialty/neonatal-intensive-care-unit-nicu.