How to Choose a Birth Hospital: Advice from a Pediatrician and Father

David Goodwin, MD, is Medical Director of the Inova Loudoun Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. He also practices at Inova Children’s Hospital and Inova Fair Oaks Hospital. Dr. Goodwin is board certified in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine.

Starting a family or adding to one generates lots of excitement, questions and maybe even a little anxiety. Whether you are new parents or experienced, choosing the right hospital for your delivery can have a significant impact on how your journey begins.

All families have high expectations of a healthy, full-term infant. But sometimes there is a deviation from the expected path. Approximately nine percent of infants in Virginia are born prematurely (< 38 weeks) and others have physical problems that require specialized care. Still others need emergent care to safely transition after delivery.  Providers with advanced training in neonatology and a facility that can provide expert care will result in the best outcome and get your child home as soon as possible. 

Not All NICUs Are the Same

A neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) provides specialized care for premature or sick infants from a team of neonatologists, neonatal nurse practitioners (NNP) and other specially trained clinicians. But not all NICUs are the same, so it’s important to know your options. Different NICUs offer different levels of care. The American Academy of Pediatrics defines these as follows:

  • A Level I NICU (well-newborn nursery) provides basic care to infants at low risk
  • A Level II NICU (specialty care nursery) provides care to infants who are moderately ill with problems that are expected to resolve rapidly
  • A Level III NICU (subspecialty NICU) cares for very small, very sick newborns
  • A Level IV NICU (regional NICU) provides the highest level of care for the tiniest, most complex infants

Inova Loudoun Hospital NICU                                                                   

Inova Loudoun Hospital’s Level III NICU is the only advanced NICU in Loudoun County. Adjacent to the hospital’s post-partum unit, this specialty unit offers round-the-clock observation and care for infants as young as 28 weeks. A multidisciplinary team of board-certified neonatologists, NNPs, registered nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, speech-language therapists, board-certified lactation consultants and dietitians provide expert care and educational and emotional support for families.

Our neonatologists are part of the same practice that provides care at Inova Children’s Hospital, recognized as one of the top NICUs in the country by U.S. News & World Report and the first NICU in the United States to receive The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval. This collaboration offers a diversity of experience and resources to care for your infant.

In addition, our NICU is recognized for providing exceptionally high-quality care by the Vermont Oxford Network, a nonprofit voluntary collaboration of 1,200 hospitals working to improve neonatal care around the world. All of our physician providers were recognized as “Top Docs” by Northern Virginia magazine in 2019. 

As I tell parents, nobody ever wants their infant to be in the NICU. But it is critically important that we are here if your child needs us. 

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