Exterior view of Clear Lake Campus

Clear Lake Campus NICU named Level II Facility

The Texas Department of State Health Services has named the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Clear Lake Campus a Level II Neonatal Facility.

This certification is the next step in UTMB’s quest to provide the highest level of care across specialties and facilities.

The Level II designation means the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can take care of more medically complex babies, Dr. Rafael Fonseca, associate professor of pediatrics in the Division of Neonatology, said.

“We can now care for babies born at 32 weeks or later who weigh 1500 grams (about 3.31 lb.) or more,” Fonseca said. “Because we are level two, we can provide respiratory support using CPAP and also support babies that require mechanical ventilation for a short period of time.”

Fonseca said UTMB will continue to seek higher-level certifications going forward. In addition to always having neonatal specialist physicians on call, the unit is covered around the clock by nurse practitioners and physician assistants in addition to the nursing staff.

At Level II, the Clear Lake NICU can provide short term care for medically complex patients. For babies who need continued advanced care, UTMB has a Level IV NICU just a few miles away in Galveston, the only Level IV NICU in the region not located in Houston.

“Achieving this designation requires enhancements to our staffing, provision of expanded services, and implementation of quality improvement programs and documentation,” Dr. Joan Richardson, professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics, said. “These all result in improved specialty care for our babies, and the additional resources greatly facilitate our patient care team in providing care to patients.” 

Richardson said the designation also recognizes the outstanding professional growth and development of the neonatal team and the high-quality patient care they provide.

Administrator Ann Varghese said improving these capabilities is key to providing the best care for the youngest patients.

“The UTMB Clear Lake Campus is proud to advance our clinical capabilities to meet the growing needs of our community,” Varghese said. “Advancing to a Level II NICU reassures our community that we have the infrastructure and skills to take care of complex babies that will need specialized care from a highly skilled multidisciplinary team.”

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