EPCH Earns Highest Level NICU Designation

On Friday, Sept. 15, El Paso Children’s Hospital (EPCH) announced its official designation as a Level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

“Level IV designation acknowledges the quality of services and personal energy invested by Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso and EPCH nurse and therapist teams in the loving care of babies,” said Bradley Fuhrman, M.D., EPCH physician in chief and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso).

“The administrations of three major organizations — EPCH, University Medical Center of El Paso and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso — collaborate to provide El Paso the highest quality of mother-baby services. This designation will stimulate us to develop cutting-edge treatments, grow new programs to address the special needs of newborns and better serve parents having babies in the region.”

As a teaching institution for the TTUHSC El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, EPCH is equipped to offer highly specialized care, including some of the most innovative pediatric treatments and research opportunities in the region.

To receive Level IV designation, the hospital’s NICU had to demonstrate all Level III capabilities; provide excellent care to mothers; deliver comprehensive care to infants of all gestational ages, including the most complex and critically ill neonates and infants requiring sustained life support; house a comprehensive range of pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical subspecialists available for on-site consultation and care; be able to offer major neonatal surgery; have skilled personnel with documented training, competencies and continuing education specific to the patient population served; be able to facilitate safe transport of fragile patients; and provide outreach education to designated lower-level facilities.

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As part of its Level IV NICU designation, El Paso Children’s Hospital is equipped to facilitate transportation of fragile patients.

The designation was conferred after an extensive on-site survey by the Texas Perinatal Service, a program under the Texas EMS Trauma & Acute Care Foundation, which included an in-depth review of the program’s policies, procedures, guidelines, quality assurance programs and medical records. In addition, a panel of highly trained surgeons, neonatologists and neonatal nurses toured the facility and conducted interviews with doctors, staff and patient families to gain a more thorough understanding of the NICU’s capabilities.

“This designation speaks to our commitment to the families of El Paso and surrounding areas to provide compassionate, patient-centered, leading-edge care with the best possible outcomes,” said EPCH Board Chair Ted Houghton.

Not only did the surveyors note no deficiencies, but also commended EPCH for its emphasis on family-centered and collaborative care, direct involvement of pediatric anesthesiologists, bedside NICVIEW capabilities and sibling visitation program.