Intensive Care Units

The Patty Ribakoff Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) provides Level II and III neonatal critical care for premature, very-low birth weight and seriously ill full-term newborns and infants with congenital birth defects.

Dressing a burn

Newborn in the Neonatal ICU

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

The Patty Ribakoff Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) offers Level II and III neonatal critical care, the highest designation offered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This rating means the NICU, part of the world-class MassGeneral Hospital for Children, is staffed and equipped to provide life-saving treatment for premature, low-birth weight newborns and critically ill infants as young as 22 weeks. Of the 18 beds, 14 offer Level III care for our youngest and sickest patients and four beds provide step-down, Level II care prior to discharge.

The NICU is designated for pre-term and term infants born at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, as well as infants up to two-weeks old who are admitted from home and neonates or infants up to three months old who transfer from other hospitals.

What to Expect

Neonatal care is a family affair. The NICU welcomes parents at any time during their newborn's stay. The unit, renovated in 2006, includes dedicated parent space by their child’s bedside for overnight. In addition, the staff keeps parents involved and informed to provide comfort and reduce anxiety. Parents are included in all discussions and decisions affecting their newborn’s care. A dedicated social worker helps parents cope with ongoing medical needs and support that may be required after their baby is discharged. Support and parent advocacy groups and educational programs are also available for families.

Full Access to Specialty Care

As part of MassGeneral Hospital for Children, the NICU provides newborns and their families with access to virtually every specialty and subspecialty in neonatal and pediatric medicine and surgery. Working collaboratively with NICU staff, specialists assist in determining and implementing the best possible care plans for each infant. Among the many specialties available for NICU consultations:

  • Pulmonology
  • Cardiology
  • Surgery
  • Endocrinology
  • Radiology
  • Oncology

Highly Trained Staff

Under the leadership of Medical Director Jonathan H. Cronin, MD, and Nursing Director Margaret Settle, RN, PhD, the NICU is staffed 24/7 by highly trained, skilled and experienced neonatal physicians and nurses. Nine board-certified neonatologists work with neonatal nurses, neonatal nurse practitioners and fellows and residents in pediatrics, pediatric subspecialties and pediatric critical care. To meet the full breadth of patient needs, they collaborate with a multidisciplinary team, including:

  • Respiratory therapists skilled in neonatal ventilation
  • Clinical nutritionists with expertise in neonatal feeding
  • Lactation consultants
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapists
  • Clinical pharmacists
  • Social workers
  • Case managers
  • Chaplains

State-of-the-art Technology

Available to this multidisciplinary team of health care providers are some of the most advanced monitoring and ventilation technology anywhere. Mass General’s NICU possesses the technology and therapeutic resources available to sustain life. The unit is prepared to handle newborns requiring:

  • Ventilation
  • Inhaled nitric oxide
  • Extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
  • Continuous veno-venous hemofiltration (CVVH)
  • Total body hypothermia
  • Preoperative and postoperative care

Life-saving Transport Services

Premature and medically fragile infants born outside Mass General are welcome at the NICU. The MassGeneral Hospital for Children Transport Team uses ambulances and helicopters to retrieve patients from hospitals throughout New England and the eastern United States. Longer-distance transports can also be arranged. In addition, referring physicians and other health care providers may request a consultation, second opinion or transport 24-hours a day at 617-724-HELP.

Researching New Neonatal Treatments

Physicians, fellows and nurses assigned to the NICU conduct ongoing clinical research as part of MassGeneral Hospital for Children’s overall research programs. These programs help advance the practice of pediatric medicine and benefit critical care pediatric patients. Parents may be asked if they’d like their child to be involved in research. Participation is voluntary and information is available from NICU staff.

Training Future Neonatal Intensivists

As a teaching hospital, Mass General’s NICU physicians are on staff at Harvard Medical School to educate and train the next generation of neonatologists, pediatricians and pediatric intensivists. Critical care fellows, residents and nursing students provide help with patient care and are overseen by an attending physician.


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