Neonatology/Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

The Patty Ribakoff Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at MassGeneral Hospital for Children provides the highest level of care for premature and critically ill infants.

Overview

State-of-the-Art Newborn Care in a World-Renowned Academic Medical Center

Each year nearly 4,000 babies are born at Massachusetts General Hospital. The majority of these babies and their families receive their newborn care from our Newborn Medical Service on the post-partum family unit. For babies who require more intensive care, the NICU provides expert critical care medicine, in collaboration with our pediatric medical and surgical colleagues from MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC). Including nearly 200 newborn patients that are transported specifically to MGHfC for intensive care, we treat 700 newborns in The Patty Ribakoff Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Special Care Nursery (SCN).

Our NICU opened in June 2006 and remains one of the most advanced and family-focused newborn intensive care units in the New England region. Similarly, our Special Care Nursery was renovated and expanded in 2016.

Our NICU/SCN has 35 beds in total and each bed is outfitted with Angel Eye—a camera system that securely transmits video and audio so that families can stay in touch with their baby when away from the bedside.

Advanced Care Services

Patients admitted to the MassGeneral Hospital for Children for intensive newborn care have access to specialists in virtually every specialty and subspecialty of medicine and surgery. The NICU is equipped to care for premature and critically ill patients with complex congenital conditions that require medical or surgical intervention.

The NICU provides care for pre-term and term infants, including patients up to two weeks of age who are admitted from home, or neonates and infants up to three months of age who are transferred from another hospital. The most advanced technological and therapeutic resources are available to help care for patients and sustain life, including:

  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation: In part pioneered by physicians at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, ECMO functions as an artificial lung for patients with acute, reversible respiratory failure.
  • Inhaled nitric oxide: For cardiac and pulmonary patients with persistent hypertension, respiratory distress, aspiration syndrome, pneumonia, sepsis or congenital diaphragmatic hernia.
  • Total body hypothermia: A new therapy for infants with moderate to severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy that has been shown to improve neurodevelopmental outcomes.
  • Operating Room: The highly specialized MGHfC pediatric surgical team works closely with the NICU team. The NICU includes two bays designed to accommodate surgical procedures, complete with surgical lighting and ample space for the operating room team. This provides the advantage of avoiding the risks associated with transporting critically ill infants to the operating room.
  • Retina Surgery: The pediatric retina team from MEEI treats children with all conditions of the retina and works with the NICU to treat premature infants with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), including laser treatment and surgical interventions.
  • Airway Evaluation: The MEEI airway team is a world-renowned group of specialists who provide care for pediatric patients with congenital and/or acquired disorders of the aero-digestive tract.

Unparalleled Continuity of Care from Conception to Adulthood

Massachusetts General Hospital and MassGeneral Hospital for Children are uniquely positioned to provide patients with high-quality specialty care from conception through pregnancy, delivery, the neonatal period, childhood and into adulthood all under one roof. NICU staff actively coordinate care with other services at Mass General including Maternal Fetal Medicine, the Fetal Care Program, the Fetal Cardiology Program and specialized long-term follow up programs such as the Down Syndrome Program and Adult Congenital Heart Disease.

The Newborn Developmental Follow-Up Clinic pays special attention to the development of high-risk infants, helping families and community-based pediatricians address issues of growth and development. The clinic aids in the early identification of potential medical, neurological, developmental and nutritional issues, and guides families and primary-care providers to specific services as needed.

Our Team

  • Aurora, Megan E., MD

    617-724-4310

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • Necrotizing enterocolitis prevention
    Board Certifications
    • Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics
    Locations
    • Boston: Neonatology and Newborn Medicine Unit
    • Norwood: Norwood Hospital-Pediatrics
    • Taunton: Stewart Morton Hospital-Pediatrics
  • Bates, Sara V., MD

    Clinical Interests
    • Neonatal neurology
    Board Certifications
    • Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics
    • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, American Board of Pediatrics
    Locations
    • Boston: Neonatology and Newborn Medicine Unit
  • Bilyk, Ihor J., MD

    Board Certifications
    • Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics
    • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, American Board of Pediatrics
    Locations
    • Boston: Neonatology and Newborn Medicine Unit
  • Chou, Joseph Hsin-I, MD, PhD

    Clinical Interests
    • Clinical informatics and quality improvement
    Board Certifications
    • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, American Board of Pediatrics
    Locations
    • Boston: Pediatric Medicine
  • Cronin, Jonathan Hill, MD

    Clinical Interests
    • High frequency ventilation
    • Perinatal Regionalization
    • Synchronized mechanical ventilation
    • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)
    • Medico-legal analysis
    • MA NeoQIC
    Board Certifications
    • Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics
    • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, American Board of Pediatrics
    Locations
    • Boston: Neonatology and Newborn Medicine Unit
  • Darci, Katherine A., MD

    Board Certifications
    • Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics
    Locations
    • Boston: Pediatric Medicine
  • Geha, Mayya, MD

    Board Certifications
    • Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics
    • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, American Board of Pediatrics
    Locations
    • Boston: Neonatology and Newborn Medicine Unit
  • Kerzner, Leslie S., MD

    617-724-9040

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • Neonatal abstinence syndrome
    • Developmental outcome of prematurity
    • Opioid addiction
    • Parenting a sick newborn
    • Comfort and support after neonatal loss
    • Breastfeeding
    Board Certifications
    • Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics
    • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, American Board of Pediatrics
    Locations
    • Boston: Neonatal Critical Care Unit
  • Lambert, Laura Ann, MD

    Board Certifications
    • Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics
    Locations
    • Boston: Pediatric Medicine
  • Lerou, Paul H., MD

    Board Certifications
    • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, American Board of Pediatrics
    Locations
    • Boston: Neonatology and Newborn Medicine Unit
    • Norwood: Norwood Hospital-Pediatrics
    • Taunton: Stewart Morton Hospital-Pediatrics
  • Matute, Juan D., MD

    617-724-9040

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • Neonatology
    • Nutrition
    • Neonatal inflammatory disorders
    Board Certifications
    • Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics
    • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, American Board of Pediatrics
    Locations
    • Boston: Neonatology and Newborn Medicine Unit
  • Nathe, Katheryn E., MD

    Clinical Interests
    • Neonatology
    • Innate immunity of the preterm neonate
    • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
    Board Certifications
    • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, American Board of Pediatrics
    Locations
    • Boston: Neonatology and Newborn Medicine Unit
  • Roumiantsev, Serguei, MD, PhD

    Clinical Interests
    • Newborn medicine
    Board Certifications
    • Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics
    • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, American Board of Pediatrics
    Locations
    • Boston: Pediatric Medicine
  • Sparger, Katherine A., MD

    Clinical Interests
    • Neonatology
    • Medical education
    • Medical education and procedural training
    • Residency training and education
    • Fellowship education
    • Simulation-based preparation for Pediatric Emergencies
    Board Certifications
    • Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics
    • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, American Board of Pediatrics
    Locations
    • Boston: Pediatric Medicine
  • Woythaler, Melissa A., DO

    617-724-9040

    Accepting New Patients

    Board Certifications
    • Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics
    • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, American Board of Pediatrics
    Locations
    • Boston: MGH Newborn Service

Nurse Practitioners

Delack, Kathryn L., NNP-BC, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Dowd, Cheryl A., RNC, MS, Lead Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Moore, Terri L., N.P., Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Varney, Katherine T., N.P., Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

 

Other Care Team Members

Robert Young, RPh, Senior Attending Pharmacist, NICU

Charna Simon, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC, Clinical Dietician

Victoria Peake, MS, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist

Marisa Iacomini, MSW, LICSW, Clinical Social Worker, NICU

Jessica Ahonen, PT, DPT, PCS, Physical Therapist, NICU

 

Nursing Leadership

Janet Bell, RN, Neonatal Nurse Practice Specialist, Newborn Family Unit

Carolyn Bleiler, RN, MSN, Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist, NICU

Kim Francis, PhD, RN, PHCNS-BC, Director, SCN Nursing

Margaret Settle, RN, PhD, NE-BC, Director, NICU Nursing

Patient Transport

The NICU is committed to extending our expertise to all infants in need of treatment in New England and beyond. Partners Neonatal Transport Program, in collaboration with Boston MedFlight, provides rapid transfer and expert care for critically ill infants born outside of Mass General.

Our experienced multidisciplinary team works with the referring physician to provide necessary advice and facilitate the transfer of a baby to a tertiary care Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The unique logistical capabilities of Boston Medflight paired with the expertise of the Mass General and Brigham and Women's NICUs offers quick response time and ability to transport the complex and most vulnerable patients to the place where optimal care can be delivered.

To request a consult or arrange transportation to the NICU please call Boston MedFlight 1-800-233-8998. Referring physicians and other healthcare professionals may request a consultation, second opinion or transport 24 hours a day. In special cases, long-distance transports can be arranged.

Family Portal

Family Centered Care

We recognize and value the role of parents and families in creating a comprehensive care plan for each child in our NICU. As such, parents (and/or banded care-givers) are welcome in the unit at any time. There is dedicated parent space at each infant’s bedside, where parents may remain throughout their child’s admission. We offer Angel Eye at every bedside to allow parents and family members to see their infants even when they cannot be present.

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Access your child's Angel Eye log in here.

The Angel Eye camera system securely transmits video and audio so families can stay in touch with their baby when away from the bedside.

 

Because family-centered care is the cornerstone of the care provided throughout MGHfC, our multi-disciplinary team works closely with parents, siblings, and families to provide the most thorough care to each of our patients and empower families to continue that care throughout their stay and after discharge. Our multi-disciplinary team includes attending physicians, bedside nurses, fellows, residents, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, physical therapists, pharmacists, social workers, and a comprehensive list of pediatric consult services, all of whom work together to provide the best and most thorough care.

  • Daily rounding with the attending neonatologist, alongside the bedside nurse and the rest of the care team, occurs at each patient’s bedside; parents are welcome and encouraged to be present.
  • We ensure that every family has formal sit-down meetings with the attending neonatologist as well as the social worker, nurse, and the multi-disciplinary team to provide a broader discussion of each patient’s care and long-term plan.
  • A dedicated social worker will work closely with each patient to help parents cope, provide support, and find resources.

For Health Professionals

Community Partners

The NICU works within a network of healthcare partners, including these community hospitals:

Fellowship

The NICU participates in the Harvard Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship Training Program. As such, Harvard fellows rotate through our NICU.

Residency

The NICU is also part of the MGHfC core residency training program.

Research

Ongoing Clinical Research Studies


A Phase-II Multi-Site Study of Autologous Cord Blood Cells for Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

Study Aim: Assess the efficacy of up to two intravenous infusions of autologous umbilical cord blood cells as compared with placebo in neonates with HIE undergoing hypothermia treatment.

Inclusion Criteria: Infants > 36 weeks gestation; that present with HIE/ meet NICHD cooling criteria and have cord blood collected and available for infusion within 48 hours of delivery

Study Contact: Rebecca Weiss: (617) 643-6536, email: rjweiss@mgh.harvard.edu

Newborn Tracheal Aspirate-Derived Lung Stem Cells to Study Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD)

Study Aim: To study the cellular microenvironment of tracheal aspirate lung stem cells from patients with BPD and to correlate the gene expression of cells in the tracheal aspirates with the clinical course of BPD patients. By studying lung stem cells obtained directly from patients we can study how BPD uniquely affects that specific patient and we can begin to develop customized treatment and prevention strategies for individual patients.

Inclusion Criteria: Any term/preterm newborn intubated in the NICU requiring routine endotracheal tube suctioning

Study Contact: Rebecca Weiss: (617) 643-6536, email: rjweiss@mgh.harvard.edu

Testing the Feasibility of Utilizing Infrared Thermography for Pain Assessment with ELGA Infants: A Pilot Study

Study Aim: Evaluate the feasibility of Infrared Thermography for the identification of pain. Evaluate skin temperature changes, pain scores using the Premature Infant Pain Profile- Revised (PIPP-R) and the Neonatal Pain Agitation Sedation Scale (NPASS) and interrater reliability during heel stick and pulse oximetry probe removal.

Inclusion Criteria: Infants < 34 weeks Gestational Age within the first 40 days of life

Study Contact: Kim Francis RN, PhD, PHCNS-BC, email: kfrancis2@mgh.harvard.edu

Childbirth Experience and Maternal Mental Health

Study Aim: To examine the incidence of posttraumatic stress (PTS) syndrome among mothers of infants in NICU and to examine the association between maternal bonding and PTS symptom severity.

Inclusion Criteria: Women who recently gave birth and have an infant admitted to MGH NICU

Study Contacts: Alyssa Ashenfarb: (617) 643-4780, email: aashenfarb@mgh.harvard.edu OR Gabriella Dishy: (617) 643-4780 email: gdishy@mgh.harvard.edu 

Past Clinical Research Studies


Genomic Sequencing for Childhood Risk and Newborn Illness

Study Aim: To assess the benefits and risks of adding the information from a genomic sequencing report to physician-mediated medical care of newborns during their pediatric years.

Inclusion Criteria: Infants admitted to NICU with at least one biological parent physically available to have genetic counseling, donate DNA, and provide consent for testing the infant.

Study Contact: Rebecca Weiss: (617) 643-6536, email:  rjweiss@mgh.harvard.edu

News

  • MGHfC celebrates 10th annual Research Day - 4/6/2018, Mass General

    This year, MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) celebrated its 10th annual Research Day, an event that recognizes the pioneering research of investigators throughout the hospital whose discoveries help to better understand childhood health and disease.

  • MGHfC Introduces Neonatal Hepatology Program - 1/9/2018, Mass General

    MGHfC is pleased to announce the launch of the Neonatal Hepatology Program, a novel multidisciplinary program that allows for the careful evaluation and management of distinct and complex liver disease in newborns.

  • The Purple Butterfly Project Brings Hope, Healing and Legacy to NICU Families and Staff - 7/14/2017, Mass General

    This past spring, MGHfC introduced the Purple Butterfly Project to honor the lives of babies who were part of a multiple pregnancy and passed away. The stickers also serve as a reminder to hospital staff of the family’s loss.

  • A Brave Decision for Lifesaving Care Helps Baby Elias Thrive - 7/7/2017, Mass General

    Shortly after birth, Elias Asry was fussy and feverish. After a few tests and several attempts to calm him, he was diagnosed with early onset septicemia from E. coli bacteria in his bloodstream. To help him heal and get much needed oxygen back into his body, Elias was placed on a form of life support called ECMO. Four months after discharge, Elias is happy and healthy.

  • A Strong Support System Away From Home Helps Baby Lucy Thrive - 6/29/2017, Mass General

    Julie Blake was 7 1/2 months pregnant when her daughter, Lucy, was diagnosed with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). When she was transferred to MGHfC from Dresden, Maine, almost four hours away, multiple teams from MGHfC, including Fetal Care, the NICU and Pediatric Surgery, came together to form the support system that the Blakes needed while far away from home.

  • A return to the NICU: Positive moments with a personal touch - 6/9/2017, Mass General

    Becoming a mom can be overwhelming. Sleepless night, developing a new routine and learning an infant’s queues can lead to anxiety and stress. For infants with unexpected health complications, their parents worry only multiplies. That was case for Memmolo family.

  • A Royal Reception at MGHfC - 4/26/2017, Mass General

    Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia visited MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) on April 24 for a special tour of the hospital’s cutting-edge facilities.

  • Infant Intervention: Saving Mihaly - 4/26/2017, Mass General

    Before the birth of Rose's twins, prenatal testing showed one baby may have an intestinal blockage. Hours after Mihaly was born, MGHfC surgeons performed a life-saving surgery.

  • Bagian Kicks Off Patient Safety Awareness Week - 3/20/2017, Mass General

    James Bagian, MD, PE, professor of Engineering Practice and Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering, was honored as this year’s Safety Scholar at the 8th annual Patient Safety Awareness Week at MGHfC from March 12-18. Bagian, a former astronaut, presented his talk, “Patient Safety – It’s Not Rocket Science,” which gave insights on patient safety and how cultural changes matter most when making hospitals safer for patients.

  • This Mom is Carrying her Terminally Ill Child to Term to Save Lives - 3/16/2017, Mass General

    Article in Self magazine quotes Jeanne Macdonald, MD, director of MassGeneral Hospital for Children Perinatal Palliative Care service.

  • Sweet Support for NICU Families - 3/2/2017, Mass General

    Becoming a mom can be overwhelming. Sleepless night, developing a new routine and learning an infant’s queues can lead to anxiety and stress. For infants with unexpected health complications, their parents worry only multiplies. That’s the case for Mary Memmolo.

  • New NICU Celebrates 10 Years of Giving Hope to Babies and Their Families - 12/6/2016, Mass General

    For NICU staff, August 2016 marked 10 years of providing care for MGHfC’s most fragile patients and their families in a new space. The new NICU first opened in August 2006 and became a sacred space where staff and families shared life’s most difficult and beautiful moments and formed long-term bonds with one another.

  • Doctors help babies born addicted to heroin - 5/11/2016, Mass General

    Teens, adults, and now the rise of a new generation affected by the opioid crisis. According to federal statistics, every 25 seconds a baby is born-- helpless and hooked on opioids. Their battle to get clean is heart-wrenching.

  • As Mass. Grapples With Opioid Crisis, More Babies Are Being Born Exposed To Drugs - 3/26/2016, Mass General

    Massachusetts hospitals are seeing evidence that the opioid epidemic is affecting the next generation, with an increasing number of babies being born exposed to drugs. The most recent state hospital data suggest that the rate of drug-dependent newborns has skyrocketed to about 16 in every 1,000 births — about three times the national average.

  • Saugus baby thriving after being born 100 days too soon - 3/14/2016, Mass General

    While preterm birth affects about one of every 10 infants born in the United States, you never imagine that your baby will be that one. For Saugus resident Catherine Lopez, that was her reality, when her son Matthew Evans-Lopez was born at just 24 weeks.

  • A New Direction On Drugs - 12/13/2015, Mass General

    After 40 years and a trillion dollars, the nation has little to show for its war on drugs. Prisons are beyond crowded and there's a new outbreak in the heroin epidemic.

  • Paul Lerou, MD, named chief of Neonatology - 11/6/2015, Mass General

    Paul Lerou, MD, has been appointed chief of Neonatology and Newborn Medicine for MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) effective Oct. 1. Lerou succeeds Jonathan Cronin, MD, who will remain a member of the MGH’s clinical faculty in the Patty Ribakoff Newborn Intensive Care Unit.

  • The Neonatal Transport Program at MassGeneral Hospital for Children - 7/1/2015, Mass General

    MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Boston MedFlight, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital provide care to critically ill newborns through the Neonatal Transport Program.

  • Caroline’s cause - 1/12/2015, Mass General

    Caroline Murray is hoping to make a difference. The 9-year-old has been collecting funds for MGH Alzheimer’s research to help her grandmother and others who suffer from the disease.

  • A Premature Baby Follows Her Dreams - 6/25/2012, Mass General

    An early surprise to her family, former MassGeneral Hospital for Children patient Keri White was born premature at 28 weeks in her Newton, New Hampshire home. Although she has faced many challenges growing up, Keri has proven herself as a fighter and is pursuing her passion.

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