Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Newborns who need special or intensive care are often admitted into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at LGMC. Our Level III NICU is one of the most technologically advanced NICU's in the nine-parish Acadiana area with a capacity of 31 beds.

Caring for the tiniest patients requires a combination of precise skills, complex technology, specialized facilities and a caring, compassionate and knowledgeable staff. The NICU staff and physicians continually implement initiatives which improve patient care. The Lafayette General Foundation has been involved in helping to provide a Total Body Cooling System for hypoxic infants, NICVIEW cameras and other innovations to continue the high standard of care required for our smallest patients.  

Our caregivers include neonatologists Matthew Cortez, M.D. (Director of Neonatology) and William Smalling, M.D.  Additionally, there are 6 full-time and 2 part-time neonatal nurse practitioners, subspecialty pediatricians like pediatric cardiologists and gastroenterologists, as well as dedicated registered nurses.

In addition, LGMC provides a team of other professionals including respiratory therapists, dietitians, lactation consultants, occupational therapists, social workers and hospital chaplains.

We recognize that not all NICU patients need the same level of care; therefore, our plan of care is structured into three stages. As babies progress, they and their parents can transition to more independence and spend more time together. At each step, parents are educated how to care for their baby so that families are ready for discharge when that special day comes. Our lactation consultants are well versed in helping mothers provide nutrient-rich breast milk, even while baby is in the NICU.

NICU Transport Team

When a newborn is in peril at another hospital, the NICU Transport Team of Lafayette General rides to the rescue. The team is an emergency response crew that goes, at a moment’s notice, to nearby facilities requesting assistance with a sick or premature newborn beyond their scope of care. This voluntary group of 11 RN's and 4 respiratory therapists, must complete a 40-hour transport education course. Physicians or extra nurses accompany the team when necessary.

Key Performance Indicators

Lafayette General's Level III NICU is committed to improving the quality and safety of medical care for newborn infants and their families. Our voluntary affiliation with the Vermont Oxford Network* provides ongoing, real-time reviews of our outcomes, allowing us to identify areas of need and to objectively determine improvement strategies. A comparison to the network's benchmarks reveals excellent outcomes in all key NICU performance indicators.

*VON (Vermont Oxford Network): is one of the largest neonatal outcomes databases in existence, with over 950 participating Neonatal Intensive Care Units around the world. They collect detailed information on newborn intensive care unit (NICU) outcomes and provide a benchmark for quality patient care. There are Key Performance Indicators that allow participating NICU's to see how their outcomes compare to the Network outcomes as a whole. In general, the Key Performance Indicators represent complications of prematurity, and as such, the lower the rates of these complications, the better the care is likely to be.

Significant measurable improvements have been made since 2006, when orchestrated efforts were made to improve the approach to neonatal care in LGMC's NICU. All of the Key Performance Indicators have improved to the point where we now compare extremely favorably to all NICU's in the Vermont Oxford Network's database, and in many areas we are now consistently better than the majority of neonatal intensive care units in Louisiana, the United States, and around the world.

The people who choose to deliver their babies at LGMC, as well as the physicians who refer patients to us deserve to have access to objective data regarding the quality of work we do, and it is in this forum that we plan to provide this information. Dr. Delulio would be happy to discuss our outcomes, the Vermont Oxford Network, and the measures we took to achieve our success with any interested party, and will update our outcome statistics real-time here on LGMC's website. 

Patient Care Initiatives

Since 2006, the NICU staff and physicians have implemented several initiatives which have hard-wired a new approach to patient care. They include:
  • Developed a collaborative Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program
  • Implemented formal, multi-disciplinary daily patient rounds
  • Created multiple task forces to
    • research nursing best practices
    • revise existing policies to reflect these best practices
  • Standardized the approach to patient care among all NICU health care professionals
  • Strictly controlled the use of blood transfusions
  • Minimized the routine use of antibiotics
  • Strictly controlled the use of supplemental oxygen
  • Changed the entire approach to ventilator care, resulting in decreased days on mechanical ventilators, decreased lung injury and significantly lower incidence of chronic lung disease
  • Decreased length of time with central umbilical arterial and venous catheters in place