Intensive Care Nursery

Our doctors, nurses and other staff at the UCSF William H. Tooley Intensive Care Nursery are among the most experienced in caring for newborns needing surgery for heart, lung, gastrointestinal and other life-threatening conditions. Our neonatal heart program is one of the largest in the country, treating almost 200 newborns with heart disease each year. Our team also is a leader in caring for babies whose first surgeries were performed before birth by the pioneering UCSF fetal surgeons.

The 50-bed Intensive Care Nursery, on the 15th floor of the hospital, can be an overwhelming place, filled with high-tech equipment. It is organized into two specialized units—one for premature babies and the other for complex birth defects, including heart problems and other conditions that require advanced life support. Each unit has a dedicated doctor and nursing staff and state-of-the-art equipment for the smallest infants. In addition, the ICN has a Special Care Nursery for more stable infants recovering from congenital diseases or from premature births and a High Observation Nursery for infants who are ready to go home.

We are certified by the state of California as a Regional Intensive Care Nursery, meaning we provide all levels of newborn intensive care. The nursery works with a network of 24 hospitals in Northern California to provide neonatology care, or the specialized care of sick newborns. Many critically ill newborns from throughout the West are transported by UCSF Pediatric Transport emergency services because of our specialized facility and staff.

We are committed to excellent care and family participation as well as research to improve the care we provide.

Family Participation

The care we provide is family-centered, meaning our health professionals work to provide care that revolves around your family. While your baby is in the Intensive Care Nursery, we encourage you to spend as much time as possible with your baby.

When you arrive at the ICN, our front desk staff will direct you to your baby and provide an identification sticker for you. This sticker must be worn at all times during your visit. It is very important that you check in each day that you visit. Sometimes it's necessary to move babies to different areas in the nursery so please check in at the front desk.


Before entering the nursery, you'll be asked to roll up long sleeves and wash your hands and arms thoroughly to reduce the risk of infection to the newborns.

Parents may visit at any time except during nurse shift changes from 7–7:30 a.m. and 7–7:30 p.m. as well as during medical "rounds" in the morning when our medical team discusses the care of the babies in the nursery. Please inquire about the medical rounds schedule. You may attend discussions regarding your baby, but not regarding the others. You may be asked to leave the nursery if there's a need to perform a special procedure.

Brothers and sisters may visit after being screened by our unit service coordinator. Please closely supervise your children at all times. Children under age 12 who are not brothers or sisters are not allowed in the nursery.

Family members and friends may visit if accompanied by a baby's parent. When a parent can't visit for an extended period, arrangements can be made to allow up to four relatives or friends to visit unaccompanied by a parent. The unit service coordinator, however, must have a parent's written permission. Please keep in mind that we may need to limit the number of visitors in the nursery.

For visitors, we have a waiting room with a television. We also have a kitchen equipped with a microwave oven, refrigerator, freezer and cabinets, if you wish to bring food to the hospital. We provide lactation support services as well as two breast-pumping rooms, pumping kits, storage bottles and labels. A large freezer is available for storing breast milk. Please ask your nurse if you have questions or need lactation support.

Visitors are not allowed if they have a cold, flu or fever or if they were recently exposed to a contagious disease.

Infant Security

Babies in the nursery wear identification bands at all times. Babies, who weigh more than 1,000 grams and are not on a ventilator, wear security tags that are monitored by our infant security alarm system. Medical staff members caring for your baby also wear UCSF identification badges.

Support Services

The following services are available to ensure that parents and family members are fully informed and to help with emotional, financial and family concerns.

  • Chaplain Service: Spiritual care can be a source of comfort. Chaplains are available at all times. A nursery staff member can help you contact this service.

  • Parent Support Group: The parent support group is for parents whose babies are in the ICN. It is facilitated by a nurse and meets every Tuesday afternoon. This is an opportunity for parents to meet and discuss their experiences.

  • Social Workers: All families are contacted by a social worker who answers questions, helps solve family-related problems such as temporary housing and financial concerns and provides emotional support.

  • Volunteer Baby Cuddlers: Our "cuddlers" are a wonderful group of volunteers who are specially trained to hold and soothe newborns.

Discharge Planning

The UCSF Division of Hospital Medicine is dedicated to providing the highest quality inpatient care for patients on the USCF Medical Service and to the promotion of quality improvement and patient safety throughout the medical center. We also aim to disseminate the fruits of our work through lectures, publications, and other vehicles, and to help train our residents, students, and fellows in the techniques of quality improvement.

With their diverse interests and backgrounds, members of the group are currently leading a variety of innovative projects. Selected QI projects being led by UCSF hospitalists include:

  • Medical Service Discharge Planning Improvement Project
  • Collaborative Daily Bedside Rounds- a program to improve physician-nurse communication
  • Protocol for Management of Alcohol Withdrawal
  • Protocol for Prevention and Management of Delirium
  • Medical Service Intern Signout- an educational program to enhance physician signout in the setting of new resident duty hours requirements
  • Perioperative Performance Improvement Project- assessing the use of β-blockers, glucose management, surgical site infection and DVT prophylaxis
  • DVT Treatment and DVT Prophylaxis Protocols
  • JCAHO Core Measures in community acquired pneumonia and smoking cessation.
  • Post-Discharge Home Visits- a collaborative pharmacy-hospitalist project for patients at high risk for readmission

UCSF Hospitalists are also leaders and key participants in many interdisciplinary medical center performance improvement committees including the Patient Safety Committee, Clinical Performance Improvement Committee, Physicians Advisory Group for Clinical Information Systems, Patient Satisfaction Committee, Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, and the Patient Flow Committee.

More Information

During a baby's stay in the Intensive Care Nursery, parents may call (415) 353-1565 to speak with a baby's nurse or doctor.

Our toll-free number for parents only is (800) 933-UCSF. We ask that you use the toll-free number only once a day. We understand that your friends and family members also will be concerned about your baby, but we can provide confidential medical information only to parents.