Health Services

Neonatal ICU

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth is prepared to take care of the smallest of patients.

The unit provides state of the art equipment to manage most complex neonatal issues. We are a 18 bed level III NICU with the latest technology and capabilities including oscillatory ventilation and nitric oxide therapy. The unit also houses a six bed Observation Nursery.

The NICU healthcare staff is committed to providing the best care for babies and their families. Medical services are provided by a highly qualified staff of neonatologists, pediatric residents and nurse practitioners. In house medical consult services are available for Pediatric Cardiology, Pediatric Neurology, Pediatric Surgery, Endocrinology, Hematology-Oncology, Genetics and ENT.

Nursing services are provided by a skilled professional and paraprofessional staff with an average of 15 years NICU experience. Support services include Social Work, Discharge Planning, Neonatal Pharmacy, and Occupational Therapy.

We have met Joint Commission guidelines for achieving national quality standards. We strongly support and provide the ongoing learning and training of physicians, nurses and ancillary staff.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are babies admitted to Neonatal Intensive Care Units?

Many babies end up in the NICU because they are delivered prematurely. Infants born before 37 weeks gestation (3 weeks early) are considered premature. Other babies are admitted for a variety of medical conditions including infection, breathing difficulties, heart problems or other birth defects.

Who can visit?

We encourage parents to visit often and get involved in care routines as much as possible.  

A well child-waiting center is available during the week for sibling when a family is visiting their baby. Space is limited and reservations required. For more information about this center click here.

Up to two other friends and/or family members may visit if accompanied by Mom, Dad or a designated support person.

All visitors must roll up their sleeves and wash their hands prior to visiting a newborn in the NICU.

Can we visit?

The unit is open to visitors 24 hours a day except for change of shift report.

0645-0715 / 1845-1915

How do we get there?

The NICU is located on the 4th floor of the main hospital (building 2). Cross into the main building from the parking garage and take the elevators to the 4th floor. Follow signs to NICU or 4P.

When can our baby go home?

Babies must meet the following criteria before they are discharged home

  • Be able to keep his/her body temperature normal in an open crib
  • Be on complete breast and/or bottle feeds taking an adequate number of calories
  • Be gaining weight on all breast or bottle feeds
  • Not have any apneas (pauses in breathing) causing slow heart rate (bradycardia) or change in color

Most babies are off oxygen when discharged, but some infants who will need oxygen for a long time are sent home on oxygen.

The average premature baby meets these criteria near their due date. Hospital stays vary from a few days to many months. Infants who stay beyond their due date usually are infants who:

  • Were on breathing machines and oxygen the longest
  • Were born with malformations
  • Needed surgery

How can we prepare for discharge of our newborn?

We have a Rooming-In Program that allows parents to spend a night in the hospital with their babies prior to discharge. CPR education is also available to all parents and caregivers. CPR training is required for all parents of premature infants, babies who have been on ventilators and families with a history of sudden infant death syndrome.

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(757) 953-4690


NMC Portsmouth Charette Health Care Center
Building 2, 4th Floor


24 hours (except during change of shift 6:45 - 7:15 a.m. & 6:45 - 7:15 p.m.)
*Updated 19 April 2023
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