Neonatal Intensive Care

Service available at   Kapiolani Pali Momi Straub Wilcox
Premature infant girl NICU patient gets skin-on-skin contact with dad.

Neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) treat babies with medical conditions that need close monitoring and special care. This includes babies who are sick due to early delivery or prematurity, heart conditions, breathing problems, birth defects and other life-threatening conditions.

NICUs are equipped to provide specialized care services for the smallest and most critically ill newborns and infants.

Programs & Services available at:

Kapiolani 808-949-9355

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Kapiolani Medical Center provides a full range of highly specialized medical and surgical services to approximately 1,000 babies from across the state of Hawaii each year. Newborns from other NICUs on Oahu and babies born on neighbor islands are transported to Kapiolani when a higher level of care is needed.

Located in the Diamond Head Tower, our 74-bed NICU provides 24-hour, family-centered care to sick babies in a family-centered setting. There are a variety of amenities for the convenience and comfort of families including:

  • Sleep chairs at each bedside.
  • Shower rooms for parents.
  • Lactation services with a hospital grade breast-pump in each baby’s room.
  • Diurnal lighting to simulate the day/night cycle for your baby.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Services

Kapiolani's multidisciplinary NICU team provides care for newborns who need acute medical interventions. This includes:

  • Breathing support, including conventional, high-frequency oscillator and jet ventilation for premature and full-term babies.
  • Inhaled nitric oxide for severe lung problems.
  • Complex pediatric surgical procedures.
  • Cardiac interventions performed in the Kapiolani Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, the only one of its kind in Hawaii, as well as some open cardiothoracic surgical procedures.
  • Whole-body cooling and real-time video seizure monitoring for infants who have suffered a low-oxygen event during the birth process.
  • Advanced imaging such as magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI.
  • Dialysis for babies with kidney or metabolic problems.
  • Highly advanced life-saving measures such as ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), which runs a baby’s blood through a bypass machine, providing oxygen to the blood and returning it to the body.
  • Rapid on-site access to a wide range of pediatric medical subspecialists.
  • Perinatal comfort care and palliative care for newborn children with complex care needs.

Kapiolani also has the only dedicated Pediatric Transport team in the state of Hawaii. Every year dozens of babies born at other hospitals are brought to the Kapiolani NICU via ambulance or air transport by these transport team specialists.

The medical and nursing staff at Kapiolani provide 24-hour labor and delivery room support. Our expert, high-risk delivery team is always available to provide immediate assistance, resuscitation and stabilization to any baby who may need help after being born. The NICU delivery team also attends all cesarean section deliveries.

NICU Care Team

The NICU team provides life-saving measures in a structured environment employing state-of-the-art technology. Our team includes:

  • Physicians, including attending neonatologists, pediatric neonatal hospitalists, neonatology fellows and pediatric residents.
  • Neonatal nurse practitioners.
  • Bedside staff nurses, charge nurses, clinical nurse educators and case managers.
  • Respiratory therapists.
  • Clinical pharmacists.
  • Feeding and nutrition specialists, including dietitians, lactation consultants, and speech and rehabilitation services.
  • Support service professionals, including social workers, behavioral health specialists and pastoral care.

Patient Stories

From Micro-Preemie to Healthy Child: Kalley-Mae’s Story

Portrait of a healthy toddler.

Born at 23 weeks and weighing just 1 pound, 6.6 ounces, Kalley-Mae Yee spent her first six months of life growing strong and healthy in the NICU. Read Kalley-Mae’s Full Story

NICU Care Critical for Overcoming Serious Respiratory Illness: Kaila’s Story

Wada familly with healthy young child.

Soon after Kaila was born, she was diagnosed with a serious respiratory illness requiring life-saving care. Today Kaila is happy and healthy, thanks to the care from her NICU team. Read Kaila’s Full Story

NICU Family Guidelines (PDF)
Guidelines and helpful information for families with a baby in the NICU.

Footprints to Home (PDF)
Goals and expectations for when infants can go home from the NICU.

Bottle Recommendations for Preemies (PDF)
What to consider when choosing a bottle/nipple system if your baby needs bottle feeds.

Colostrum Milk Feedings in the NICU (PDF)
The benefits of breastfeeding when your child is in the hospital.

Collection and Storage of Breast Milk for the Hospitalized Infant (PDF)
Helpful advice for how to begin breastfeeding, using a breast pump and storing breast milk for your newborn.

Car Seats for Preemies and Small Babies (PDF)
Get the right car seat for small and premature infants.

Car Seat Checklist (PDF)
Five things to check on a car seat at home.

Car Seat Checks (PDF)
Free in-person car seat checks on Oahu and Kauai. Also available virtually.

Health Library: Caring for Babies in the NICU
Articles about the special care NICU babies may receive.

The Period of PURPLE Crying – A New Way to Understand Your Baby's Crying (video)
Learn about this developmental phase when baby will cry more.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
Parent information about premature babies from the AAP.

Baby Steps to Home
Useful education information for all NICU parents from the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN).

Hawaii Mother’s Milk
Hawaii Mother’s Milk helps advocate breastfeeding as the best source of nutrition for infants.

Breastfeeding Information
Handouts for parents from Lactation Education Resources.

Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) | March of Dimes
Additional resources and support to help parents understand and navigate their babies' NICU journey.

Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a federally funded program in Hawaii for pregnant, breastfeeding or postpartum women, and infants and children younger than age five.