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Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)

Some babies are born with medical conditions and require special medical care to develop normally. Other babies may develop a critical illness after going home and need to return to the hospital for advanced treatment. In both cases, the NICUs at Dignity Health hospitals are fully equipped with advanced technology to monitor, treat, and heal your new baby. 

With four neonatal intensive care units in Central California, we offer Level II NICU care for premature babies and infants who need support breathing at Memorial Hospital, Mercy Hospital Southwest and Mercy Medical Center Merced, as well as a Level III unit at St. Joseph's Medical Center.

Find a Doctor near you for comprehensive care for your baby.


Why your baby may need a neonatologist

A neonatologist has special training in caring for premature babies and newborns with fetal conditions. Along with other specially trained staff, a neonatologist helps manage and offer intensive care to support your baby’s breathing, circulation, and other essential organ functions.

Premature birth is the most common reason for NICU care.

After delivery, your doctor may recommend intensive care to treat any of these conditions:

The goal of NICU care is to stabilize your baby so he or she can return home.


What to expect: neonatal intensive care (NICU)

The NICU can be an overwhelming place for parents. It’s a busy environment where you may hear many different sounds and see unfamiliar machines. You’ll also meet and work with a number of specialist while you’re baby is in the NICU. 

Your baby’s care team may consist of: 

  • Neonatologists
  • Neonatal nurses
  • Lactation consultants to help you provide your baby with breastmilk
  • Nutritionists
  • Physical therapists
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Social workers and chaplains to provide support and special services

We encourage you to participate as much as possible in your baby’s care. When you’re not at the hospital, you can call and check on your baby any time of the day.

It’s normal to experience varying emotions while your baby receives specialized care in our NICU. For compassionate care that’s guided by the goal of healing, choose a Dignity Health NICU.

Dignity Health Central California offers advanced neonatal care in Bakersfield, Merced, and Stockton, CA.

Learn more about our NICUs