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Neonatal Special Care Unit


Special Care Unit: A new unit perfect for our youngest patients with special needs.

Babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) have special needs. In addition to requiring medication and extra attention, they are often very sensitive to noise and light that normally would not distress an infant. In a response to a region-wide epidemic of babies born addicted to drugs, the Ballad Health Foundation raised funds for a special unit within Niswonger Children’s Hospital ideal for caring for babies who are born with neonatal abstinence syndrome.

This 17-room unit is an excellent healing environment for babies suffering from NAS. We anticipate this soothing environment will shorten the amount of time these babies must spend in the hospital. The unit also provides private rooms for families who need additional time and space to bond with their babies.

  • NAS occurs when babies are born addicted to prescribed medications or illegal substances that the mother has used during pregnancy. Opioids (painkillers) or benzodiazepines (for anxiety or sleep) are the most common medications that cause NAS, but other drugs, legal and illegal, may also be the cause.
  • Pregnant women may be using medicine as prescribed, for addiction or pain treatment, or may be using medication or substances inappropriately. These newborns may need to stay in the hospital longer than other full term babies.
  • After being born, babies experiencing NAS go through a painful and uncomfortable process that can last from days to months.
  • The babies often have a distinctive cry, and may suffer from agitation, gastrointestinal problems and high sensitivity to light and noise.

For more information regarding the Special Care Unit, please call 423-431-4847.

For more information on naming opportunities, please contact:

Cookie McKinney
Manager, Children’s Initiatives