ROCKFORD, Illinois – SwedishAmerican is pleased to announce it has received Level III Perinatal Status from the Illinois Department of Public Health, allowing the hospital to operate a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for the first time. Level III neonatal designation is the highest level of neonatal care currently recognized by the state.

SwedishAmerican’s Level III NICU will feature 10 beds, providing care for babies born at less than 32 weeks gestation as well as babies born with critical illness at all gestational ages. The Level III NICU will be staffed 24 hours a day by a multidisciplinary team of physicians from both SwedishAmerican and the nationally-rated University of Wisconsin’s American Family Children’s Hospital.

“This is a very exciting announcement for SwedishAmerican,” says President and CEO Dr. Michael Born. “We are very proud to offer the highest level of care to our youngest patients while also giving peace-of-mind to parents who deliver at SwedishAmerican. They now know that if their baby is delivered early, they’re receiving the best possible care that is offered.”

The IDPH categorizes hospital perinatal centers in five levels – Level 0, Level I, Level II, Level IIE and Level III. SwedishAmerican was previously Level IIE, which includes hospitals with extended neonatal capabilities that can provide care to women and newborns at moderate risk and do operate a Special Care Nursery but do not operate a NICU. Only Level III hospitals operate a NICU.

“We know that infants delivered at appropriate-level facilities are more likely to have better neonatal outcomes,” SwedishAmerican Physician Howard Kaufman said. “We are fortunate to have pediatric subspecialty support from both our local clinicians and our parent organization at the University of Wisconsin and the American Family Children's Hospital. We are now able to care for many of the most complex medical issues facing some of the children in our community, and patients will be able to stay with the clinicians they have chosen to care for them.”

SwedishAmerican spent three years training and adding staff members to meet the Level III NICU requirements, including adding an on-site pediatric surgeon and anesthesiologist, a team of neonatologists, and a Level III-trained nursing staff.

“Our staff has been working hard to prepare the new NICU,” says Chief Nursing Officer Ann Gantzer. “The unit includes the most up-to-date technology offered and will be manned not only by skilled doctors, nurses, and all essential staff from SwedishAmerican, but also from the award-winning staff from UW.”

SwedishAmerican will continue to house its 14-bed Level IIE Special Care Nursery Unit in addition to the NICU. The NICU will be relocated in 2021 to a new, four-story state-of-the-art women’s and children’s tower, located on the hospital campus in downtown Rockford.

The Level III NICU is part of SwedishAmerican’s expansion project announced last year. The project includes the construction of the new women and children’s tower and the creation of all private in-patient rooms throughout the existing hospital. Approximately 600 union labor construction jobs and dozens of new permanent healthcare jobs will be created.

About SwedishAmerican:

A division of UW Health, SwedishAmerican is dedicated to providing excellence in healthcare and compassionate care to the community. The organization serves residents of 12 counties in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin through a dedicated and caring staff, a major acute care hospital and a free-standing outpatient cancer center in Rockford, a medical center in Belvidere, a network of 30 primary care and multi-specialty clinics, and the region’s largest home healthcare agency. Additionally, SwedishAmerican has achieved Magnet® recognition as a reflection of its nursing professionalism, teamwork and superiority in patient care.