Reno’s Newest Hospital Opens Level II NICU for Premature Infants

The NICU and RT Team at NN Sierra Medical Center.Northern Nevada Sierra Medical Center (SMC) has announced the opening of its level II neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), providing care to infants born at 32 weeks’ gestation or later who have needs or conditions that require specialized medical attention.

“We are proud to have earned certification as a level II NICU and begin caring for infants that are born prematurely,” said Laura Smith, MSN, RN, RNC-NIC, NICU manager at SMC. “The expanded services provide families with reassurance that our new hospital has the advanced capabilities and highly trained staff to support infant care.”

The 12-bed NICU unit is equipped with advanced medical technology including direct access to the labor and postpartum maternity suites where moms are cared for. Other accommodations include four private rooms with noise control and isolation for our most sensitive patients, Giraffe Omnibed Carestations that serve as both an incubator and radiant warmer for infants, and NicViewTM cameras at every bed space for live streaming of infants, as desired by parents.

The staff who support NICU patients include registered nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, social workers, case managers and lactation consultants, all of whom receive unique training to work with infants born prematurely.

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In addition, the NICU is focused on family-centered care and works closely with parents to ensure they are the focal point of their infant’s care. The NICU staff promote skin-to-skin with babies and parents, breastfeeding support for mothers, developmental care for babies and clustered care to promote minimal handling to help babies receive uninterrupted periods of sleep. Along with our nursing staff, parents will participate in all aspects of care, providing them comfort and support during their infants’ hospital stay.

The department is led by medical director Jennifer Achilles, MD, and nurse manager Laura Smith, MSN, RN, RNC-NIC. Dr. Achilles brings more than 15 years of experience to her role. She graduated from the University of Utah School of Medicine and followed with a pediatric residency at both the University of New Mexico and the University of San Diego. Her extensive experience treating neonatal and inpatient pediatric patients began at Kaiser in San Diego, and led to roles in Colorado, Washington, New Mexico and California. Dr. Achilles is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.

Laura Smith, MSN, RN, RNC-NIC, graduated with a Master of Science in Nursing Leadership and Management from Western Governors University. She began her career in 2005 as a staff nurse at St. Jude Medical Center in California. Laura continued to focus her career on neonatal nursing both in Reno and out of market. Before joining SMC earlier this year, she led a local NICU department as an associate nurse manager. Laura has passed the rigorous standards to earn certification in neonatal nursing (RNC-NIC).