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Department of Neonatal Care - Latifa Hospital, Dubai

UAE Awards

Hamdan Award for an Outstanding Clinical Department in the Public Sector in UAE
History and Services
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of Latifa Hospital, formerly Al Wasl Hospital, established 25 years ago, is a 34 bed unit which is the main tertiary referral center for the newborn in Dubai and Northern Emirates and the only neonatal surgery center in Dubai.
The NICU has seen increasing demands for its services since its inception with increasing number of admissions of both inborn and outborn infants.
In addition, it expanded its services by offering new therapies and specialized tertiary care interventions to the area patients. The addition of novel therapies in NICU has also been combined with providing high-risk pregnancy services in the Latifa Hospital Feto-Maternal Medicine Unit. These services fulfill the needs of the people of Dubai and the Northern Emirates in cases of multiple and/or complicated pregnancies.
The level of care in the NICU is classified as III B by the American Academy of Paediatrics, the highest level for newborns in the UAE. The NICU actually functions as a level III C Unit, as it has pediatric surgery services for newborns and also takes care of infants with cardiac problems, although it does not offer cardiac surgery.
Despite the presence of many new hospitals in Dubai offering neonatal intensive care, Latifa Hospital NICU continues to be the principal referral centre for sick infants.
In the last six years, the NICU has improved dramatically and advanced the services it provides to the sick newborn infants. The Unit is striving to achieve the vision of Latifa Hospital to be a model of excellence in health care for women and children in the region.
The NICU added more physicians to provide better services to the patients 24 hours a day. It also added new equipments and therapies that were not available previously. The Unit places a priority on education for its physicians and nurses as well as the patients and their families.
Latifa Hospital has 6700-7800 deliveries per year. In 2007, the NICU added two more rooms, as it was running occupancy rates of 130%. A second expansion is planned to start soon to accommodate the large number of referral requests it receives from other hospitals. Latifa Hospital is a Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited hospital. Many of the NICU doctors are active members and chairperons of various committees covering different chapters of JCI.
Clinical Facilities:
The NICU provides care for all sick preterm and full term newborn infants starting at 23-24 weeks gestation. Infants as small as 450 gms birth weight have been cared for and discharged home. The Unit provides all types of ventilator care including Non-invasive Ventilation, High Frequency Ventilation, and Inhaled Nitric Oxide.
Also available is Whole Body Cooling for cases of Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy more than 35 weeks gestation. Preoperative and postoperative care is provided to surgical cases. In addition, a neonatologist attends all major surgeries to monitor the patient undergoing surgery and assist with stabilization of the patient, if needed. Procedures performed within the Unit include chest tube insertion, arterial catheterization, percutaneous intravenous catheter insertion, ventricular tap, and brain sonography. Antenatal consultations are provided in the Feto-Maternal Medicine and Labour Suite. All infants are examined at their mother’s bedside and counseling regarding breast feeding and other issues is done.
Neonatologists also arrange and provide consultations and counseling to families in the postnatal ward when work up is performed on an infant suspected of having a genetic disease or when there is a family history of congenital disorders. All infants are covered under the newborn screening program, which tests for 23 inborn errors of metabolism and endocrine conditions. A universal hearing screen is also performed for rall newborns during the hospital stay.
Doctors and nurses in the Unit regularly counsel and educate families about their infants’ problems. This counseling and education is carried out in various settings, including bedside
and through formal meetings. An infant follow-up clinic is conducted every week.
All NICU graduates are followed with a special attention to Very Low Birth Weight (VLBW) infants, who are followed in the clinic for up to 2-years of age. These follow-up sessions involve evaluation of the infants’ growth, nutrition, immunization, and neurological status. Ophthalmologic examination of all VLBW infants and other selected infants is conducted by a trained Ophthalmologist during the hospital stay.
The Team
The facility has 19 Physicians and 120 nurses, two lab technicians and one physical therapist. Since the unit is part of the Pediatric Department, it also benefits from the availability of other specialities, such as Pediatric Cardiology, Metabolic and Genetics, and Pediatric Neurology. Radiology and Blood Bank are departments that are essential to the care of sick newborn infants. All nurses have experience in neonatology and go through a preceptorship. The Unit’s physical therapisthas experience in Development Care of preterm neonates, and provides assessments and consultations to all infants in the NICU. The therapist also conducts teaching sessions for the staff and family on proper positioning and handling of premature infants.
Research, Training, and CME
Six Neonatologists provide education to Pediatric Residents, including year round activities. Paediatric Residents choose a research project, supervised by a Neonatologist, during residency training. Seven physicians from the Iranian Hospital and Al Baraha Hospital have been trained in the NICU for 2-3 week periods. For quality monitoring, Latifa Hospital Neonatologists review the files of infant mortality and stillbirths in Dubai (public and private), making appropriate recommendations to the Dubai Health Authority to improve care.
The NICU staff has organized four international symposia since 2008, including a webcast. Each symposium included lectures by Latifa Hospital neonatologists as well as international and local experts in the field of neonatology. It also included hands-on workshops in neonatal ventilation and other aspects of neonatal care. In addition, the Unit also conducted workshops for neonatal nurses, which advanced their understanding and practice of neonatology.
A webcast was organized in October 2011 in collaboration with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Monthly Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) training is conducted for doctors and nurses. NICU has also conducted Nursing Education programs since 2008. The Unit has hosted visits of a number of visiting Professors from the USA and established quality indicators and internal bench marking.
The Unit collaborates with the Obstetric and Paediatric Surgical Departments and established a new NICU Infection Control Task Force in 2008. Newborns requiring cardiac surgery are referred to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi.
An annual Breast Feeding campaign for ‘public education’ is held and NICU has also been involved with community education on television and in national newspapers. Twenty four presentations were made by NICU in conferences within the UAE, three in Egypt and one in Syria in 2010-11. Members of the Unit have published two research articles in the last five years.
The Department of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Latifa Hospital, backed by highly-professional staff and efficient systems that facilitates meeting the international standards, has been providing a whole spectrum of services to the residents of Dubai and the Northern Emirates. Its contributions to the healthcare services, medical education are excellent and are being recognized through the Hamdan Award for Outstanding Clinical Department in the Public Sector in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).