Valley Children’s NICU at Mercy Medical Center Celebrates 25-Year Anniversary

Valley Children’s NICU at Mercy Medical Center Celebrates 25-Year Anniversary

(Madera, California) – Valley Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Mercy Medical Center in Merced this week is celebrating 25 years of caring for the tiniest patients in their earliest and most vulnerable days. Since opening on Sept. 16, 1996, Valley Children’s level II NICU in Merced has cared for more than 3,000 babies.

“The NICU team at Mercy Medical Center sees some of the most fragile babies who are born sick or prematurely,” says Valley Children’s Director of Clinical Care Stacie Venkatesan, RN. “Our expert staff in Merced includes several nurses who have been with us for 25 years – since day one - and we are proud to have such a skilled and experienced team provide critical care that is lifesaving for some of the smallest patients in the Valley.”

Many babies who need neonatal intensive care are born before 32 weeks gestation and can weigh as little as 500 grams — comparable in size to a pomegranate, grapefruit or soda can. Valley Children’s NICU team is trained in neonatal resuscitation and specializes in high-risk deliveries and complicated births. Medical treatment focuses on the nourishment and development of the baby, while including their parents as part of the care team.

Rosalina Mendoza, RN, was one of the original nurses who helped open the NICU in Merced and is proud to have been part of the growth that brought complex care where it is needed most. “What brings me the most joy about my job is knowing that the babies we care for are able to stay in their community, close to home,” says Mendoza. “Before our unit opened, babies who required a higher level of care had to be transferred to Fresno or Madera.”

Valley Children’s has four NICUs in the Central Valley, including Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera (the only level IV NICU in the entire region), Adventist Health in Hanford and Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno. U.S. News & World Report also ranks Valley Children’s as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country in seven pediatric specialties, including Neonatology.

If birth comes earlier than planned, or if a complex condition requires specialized training, timely care can be lifesaving. Click here to visit Valley Children’s “At the Heart” blog to hear from Valley Children’s RNs Deborah Lingenfelter, Rosalina Mendoza, Cynthia Garcia and Linda Higgins -- four of the original neonatal nurses who helped open the NICU in Merced 25 years ago.

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