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Neonatology (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU)

Critically ill newborns require special treatment. The doctors, nurses and counselors on the UK Neonatology team specialize in the treatment of the unique problems faced by at-risk newborns and babies born early, or 'preemies'.

An experienced team of social workers and counselors work with families to help them deal with the crisis, and it doesn't end when a newborn leaves the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). We provide comprehensive follow-up care plan to help families with the challenges of caring for a high-risk newborn and offer special follow-up care at our NICU Graduate Clinic, designed to help children with developmental problems and abnormalities.

"A Small Miracle" from Making A Difference magazine, 2016

  • Locations


    Kentucky Children's Hospital

    Kentucky Children's Hospital

    UK Chandler Hospital - Pavilion HA
    Fourth Floor
    800 Rose St.
    Lexington KY 40536

    To transfer neonates to our facility, please contact UKMD's at 800-888-5533


    UK Center for Excellence in Rural Health

    UK Center for Excellence in Rural Health

    Bailey-Stumbo Building
    750 Morton Blvd.
    Hazard KY 41701

    This building is Adjacent to the Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center.

    NICU Graduate Clinic

    Family Care Center

    Family Care Center

    1135 Harry Sykes Way
    Lexington KY 40504
    Fax 859-257-4384

  • About the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

    The NICU is a 66-bed unit providing Level IV and intermediate care for the newborn. It provides a neonatal transport team that utilizes the Kentucky Children's Hospital ambulance, a mobile neonatal unit, and serves as a regional neonatal transport center serving Eastern and Central Kentucky.

    Our NICU is fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology to give every at-risk newborn the best possible care. Patient care strategies within the NICU include infant therapy and high frequency ventilation for preemies with breathing disorders.

    Our team utilizes both a ground and air transport system to bring patients to our intensive care environment. Approximately 40 percent of birthing mothers at the UK HealthCare are considered high risk; 20 percent of their infants are low birth weight and are admitted to the NICU. About 50 percent of the NICU admissions come from our own delivery service. The remainder of our infants are transported by the nurse clinician Neonatal Transport Team.

    Areas of interest or research:

    • Asphyxia
    • Breastfeeding
    • Calcium metabolism
    • Congenital defects
    • Glucose regulation in newborns
    • Neonatal immunology
    • Neonatal nutrition
    • Parenting
    • Perinatal aspiration syndromes
    • Perinatal metabolism
    • Pulmonary function testing in newborns
    • Respiratory distress syndrome
  • About our team

    The NICU team includes doctors, advance practice providers, nurses, respiratory therapists as well as dietitians, social workers and discharge planners.

    Attending physician (neonatologist): is a medical doctor who finished an additional three years of specialized training beyond what is required for a regular pediatric doctor. They coordinate and make suggestions about your baby's care plan to the other team members and are available 24 hours a day if a problem arises. 

    Neonatology fellow: is a medical doctor who has finished pediatric residency and is currently completing his/her training to become a neonatologist. 

    Resident physician: is a medical doctor who has completed medical school and is now receiving specialized training.

    Advance Practice Providers (APP): This group includes Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NNP) and Physician Assistants (PA). The NNPs are registered nurses that completed extra training in the care of sick newborns. PAs completed training to become PA and an additional neonatology residency. This group works closely with the attending physicians and neonatal fellows on the unit.

    Neonatal nurses: These nurses have completed extra training to work in the NICU. They will help you take an active role in the care of your baby. 

    Respiratory therapist: Licensed therapists that manage the equipment that helps your baby breathe. 

    We also round with a team of nutritionists, pharmacists and social workers that help us deal with each individual aspect of your infant’s care. Once the infant is close to discharge, the discharge planner will coordinate different services required after discharge along with any necessary additional appointments.

    Education programs:

  • Ronald McDonald Family Room

    Families of children in the critical-care units (NICU, PICU) are welcome to visit the Family Room just a few steps from their child’s bedside. The Family Room was made possible through leadership contributions from McDonald's of Central and Southeastern Kentucky, UK HealthCare and a start-up grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities Global.

    Much like the Ronald McDonald House, the Ronald McDonald Family Room offers a home-like setting. Special attention is given to provide space for private conversation and quiet reflection in several comfortable seating areas. Complimentary snacks, McDonald’s coffee, personal entertainment devices and other amenities are offered.

    The Family Room is staffed entirely by well-trained volunteers who provide a welcoming atmosphere, a listening ear and a compassionate heart.

    “Volunteers are essential to the success of the program and we are currently in need of volunteers willing to make a commitment to be trained and help fill open shifts each month,” said Sarah Warner, executive director, Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bluegrass.

    Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) requests that residents of the Bluegrass and beyond celebrate the anniversary of the Family Room by asking themselves, "What is one thing can I do to help?” RMHC suggests volunteering, collecting in-kind items, and hosting fundraising projects to ensure future operation of the Family Room.

    The Family Room is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

    To find out more information about volunteering or to make a financial or in-kind donation, please email or call 859-368-8437. For more information visit Kentucky Children’s Hospital or call 859-257-1121.

  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation

    Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation is performed by Neonatologists at Kentucky Children's Hospital. Newborns from all over the region are transported to our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit by our Neonatal Emergency Transport Service.

    When a newborn is in respiratory distress, sometimes the best option for saving the child's life is an advanced treatment using an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine.

    During the procedure, blood is drained from the infant's body through tubes. The blood is then oxygenated and the carbon dioxide is removed. The blood is warmed and then returned to the body through more tubes. With the ECMO machine doing the work of the infant's heart and lungs, the underdeveloped organs are given time to heal.