When your newborn needs special attention after birth, Essentia Heath is here for you. Trust our highly trained, compassionate team to provide advanced care for your baby in a healing environment.

What's a Neonatologist?

A neonatologist is a pediatrician with specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of babies who are born prematurely or are critically ill at birth. These specialists treat conditions ranging from breathing disorders and infections to low birth weight and birth defects. Neonatologists practice in hospital neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).

There Right Away

Start your baby's journey into the world with confidence. Our OB and NICU teams in Duluth and Fargo are in house 24/7 to immediately attend deliveries if needed.

What's a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)?

A neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is an area of the hospital designed to provide specialized care to critically ill infants. NICUs are equipped with advanced medical technology and staffed by neonatologists and other professionals who are trained to care for our tiniest patients.

There are four kinds of NICUs—Level I, II, III, and IV. Essentia has Level III NICUs, which offer advanced treatment in Duluth, Minnesota and Fargo, North Dakota.


Feel confident that your family has access to high-quality specialty care for premature and ill babies at Essentia’s Level III NICUs in Duluth, Minnesota, and Fargo, North Dakota. Our NICU care teams can:

  • Care for the smallest and sickest babies
  • Help your baby breathe with respiratory support
  • Provide continuous life support
  • Detect an eye condition called premature retinopathy

Medical Insight: NICU - Essentia Health Video Transcript

Medical Insight: NICU - Essentia Health Video Transcript
Text, Medical Insight. The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Essentia Health.

SPEAKER: Welcome to Medical Insight, a weekly healthcare feature brought to you by the experts at Essentia Health. Here's your host, Louie St. George. LOUIS ST. GEORGE:

Louie St. George, Host

Today on Medical Insight, Dr. Ann Simones talks about the importance of Essentia Health's neonatal intensive care unit. ANN SIMONES:

Dr. Ann Simones, NICU Physician.

The NICU is a specialized intensive care unit where we take care of premature babies as well as babies who are born with unexpected health problems. Babies have very unique medical needs. And it takes a very specialized group of care providers to be able to give them the care that they need. We're very fortunate to have many pediatric sub specialists here at Essentia, and so we can provide the specialized care that they need.

Wires flow from a baby's nose and chest.

For example, we have pediatric cardiologists, endocrinologists, pediatric neurology, gastroenterology, many services that can support us to provide the full specialized spectrum of care for our tiniest pediatric patients. LOUIS ST. GEORGE: Essentia has the only NICU in our region. ANN SIMONES: We have a dedicated transport team, where we fly helicopters and drive ambulances all over the place to bring sick newborns to receive care here at Essentia. A lot of families feel a pretty strong connection to the NICU after their babies go home.

A person feeds a baby a bottle.

They've had the same bedside nurse for months. Or we have a fairly small group of physicians and providers. So we make a really strong bond and connection with them. My favorite part about my job is seeing these babies in NICU follow-up clinic when they're toddlers and growing up and thriving. LOUIS ST. GEORGE: Additional support for families of Essentia's tiniest patients includes a five-room Ronald McDonald House. For Medical Insight, I'm Louie St. George. SPEAKER: This Medical Insight was brought to you by Essentia Health. To learn more, go to

Text, Medical Insight. The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Essentia Health.

A Team of Experts By Yours and Your Baby's Bedside

Depend on your Essentia NICU team to help your baby grow stronger and provide support and education to you and your family. Your team may include:

  • Neonatologists – Specialize in caring for sick and premature babies
  • Nurse practitioners – Care for babies along with your neonatologist
  • Physician assistants – Care for babies along with your neonatologist
  • Nurses – Provide 24/7 daily care, education, and emotional support
  • Rehabilitation therapists – Assess and help with your baby’s ability to eat, swallow, and move
  • Respiratory therapists – Manages the equipment that supports your baby's breathing
  • Lactation consultants – Support breastfeeding, including using a breast pump
  • Chaplains – Provide spiritual care and comfort
  • Social workers or case managers – Help you cope, find resources and services, and plan for your baby’s homecoming
  • Dietitians – Support and monitor your baby's nutrition

Family-Centered Care

As a parent, you’re part of your baby’s care team. We'll help you understand what's happening with your baby and provide knowledge to help you make well-informed decisions. We'll also encourage you to:

  • Spend as much time with your baby as you can
  • Attend care conferences to discuss specific issues about your baby’s care
  • Ask questions and share your concerns

Caring For Your Baby

Trust the NICU nurses to show you how to safely care for your baby. We’ll be by your side, available to answer questions, so you can confidently:

  • Take your baby’s temperature
  • Change diapers
  • Breastfeed or bottle-feed
  • Give your baby a bath
  • Massage your baby
  • Hold your baby skin-to-skin

NICU Visitor Policies

Depending on where you're receiving care and the time of year, visitor policies may change to protect your baby. Staff will review the current visiting policy with you when you're admitted.

If your baby is staying in the NICU, you and your partner will receive security wristbands that allow you to see your baby. Family and friends may visit as long as they are healthy and accompanied by you or your partner at all times. To protect our young patients, you will be asked to wash your hands when entering the unit. Please don't visit if you have signs of cold, flu, or other contagious diseases.

Can I Stay With My Baby?

Ask your care team about options that can help you stay close to your baby while he or she is in the NICU. In Fargo, you also take advantage of the Ronald McDonald House of the Red River Valley or discounted hotel rooms. In Duluth, our NICU also has a Ronald McDonald Family Room to do laundry, prepare food, or freshen up.

Follow-Up Care

Learn how NICU follow-up care helps your child grow and develop to his or her full potential.

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