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CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit has been officially accredited as a Level III NICU by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Providing quality care closer to home benefits local families.

"NICU babies can have prolonged hospitalizations, often three to four months in length," Rebecca Barr, NICU clinical director said in a news release. "Having a level III NICU in Texarkana helps keeps families together. To transfer a baby out of the area for specialized care means that the mother and baby are separated from the rest of the family and the support system. We have an opportunity to provide excellent care to the baby right here in Texarkana, close to home for the members of our community. This translates to better bonding, better breastfeeding outcomes, and happier babies, parents, siblings and extended families.

This three-year designation recognizes the facility's commitment to meeting the requirements of national and state standards for Level III neonatal ICUs. The hospital's NICU was visited by state surveyors for an extensive two-day, on-site survey which took an in-depth look at the program's policies, procedures and quality-improvement programs.

"We are very pleased to receive our official designation from the State of Texas recognizing our adherence to the highest standards and rigorous best practices of a state-of-the-art Neonatal Intensive Care Unit," Dr. Susan Keeney, NICU medical director, said in a news release.

A Level III designation for the NICU means that St. Michael meets quality and safety guidelines from the Department of State Health Services. Those guidelines include providing 24-hour, in-house coverage by a neonatal nurse practitioner or neonatologist, maintaining the equipment and resources necessary to care for infants born at all stages of gestation. The NICU must also have the ability to provide for prolonged ventilator use and have a specialized NICU transport team linking them to other hospitals around the region.

"We're very proud of our NICU team who have been working hard to make sure our NICU meets the highest standards in the state of Texas," Jason Rounds, St. Michael president said in a news release. "This designation acknowledges that CHRISTUS St. Michael has all of the available resources and is committed to providing highly specialized care for newborns and their families."

Until recently, NICUs throughout Texas were self-designated meaning that hospitals were able to choose which patients they took care of without definitive guidelines. In preparation over the past several years, St. Michael's NICU team has been preparing for this designation to ensure that it remains a leader in neonatal care.

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