OSF HealthCare Children's Hospital of Illinois is proud to be celebrating 75 years of neonatal care.

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75 Years of Photos

We invite you to discover how our NICU has grown over the last 75 years. Follow our Throwback Thursday posts on Facebook #NICU75 #tbt. Share your own NICU memories with #NICU75.

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The Starting Line - 1947

About Neonatal Care

Neonatology is a subspecialty of pediatrics that focuses on caring for premature and high risk newborn babies.

Ranked Nationally

Since its establishment in 1942 by The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, the NICU has been ranked nationally. Since 1992, we have been a part of the Vermont-Oxford Network - a global network of health care providers in the field of neonatal care. Compared to similar NICUs in the Vermont-Oxford Network, we have excellent outcomes.

Highest Level of Care

Our NICU is a 64-bed combined unit, including a Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and a Level II Intermediate Care Unit. We have the ability to treat the most serious situations in our Intensive Care Unit or minor conditions in our Intermediate Care Unit.

Multidisciplinary Care Team

We have eight full-time neonatologists dedicated to treating babies in the NICU. Because we are part of Children’s Hospital of Illinois, we have the support of a network of specialists who can treat complex conditions in premature infants.

History of Neonatal Care

1942 - Premature Infant Station is established

The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis established the Premature Infant Station at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center.

1967 - First helicopter transport of a premature infant in the nation

Sister M. Andre, who was the Premature Infant Station manager at the time, helped transport a premature baby from Zion, Illinois, to Children's Hospital of Illinois by helicopter.

1973 - Dr. Tim Miller joins the NICU medical staff as the first neonatal subspecialist

As subspecialties were just beginning to evolve during this time, Dr. Miller worked with four general pediatricians (children's doctors) until more subspecialists joined the team a few years later.

1973 - Premature Infant Station designation changed to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

The NICU designation signified expanded services in the unit, such as the ability to treat babies with heart, brain or stomach diseases.

1990 - Children’s Hospital of Illinois is officially established as a pediatric hospital

Children’s Hospital of Illinois designated as its own hospital specifically to care for children within OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center.

2010 – Construction of Children’s Hospital of Illinois is completed and the doors are opened

Children’s Hospital of Illinois officially has its own building to call home, featuring all private rooms.

NICU in the News

Stay informed about some of the exciting things happening at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois.

NICU Amenities Provide Comfort to Pekin Family

You hear many say, “Every pregnancy is different.” When a couple decides they want to start a family, there are always many unknowns. For Lindsay O’Rourke, of Pekin, her pregnancy had been pretty smooth and uncomplicated. That is until she reached 23 weeks, four days – a day Lindsay, and her husband, Brendan, could have never predicted and will never forget.

NICU Gives Parents Confidence to Care for Premature Baby

Joel and Rachel Bejster of Mendota were expecting their second baby – a daughter. From the start, Rachel’s pregnancy was nothing less than difficult – from undergoing fertility treatments to having a health scare early on in her pregnancy when Rachel suffered a blood clot.

Baseball Dreams Possible Thanks to Nationally Ranked Urology

When Brady Sumner was 3 years old, doctors discovered Brady was in acute renal failure and only had one kidney. With the help of the Urology team at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois, Brady is now a healthy 11-year-old, chasing his dreams of the big leagues.

OSF Children’s Hospital patients get a lift from Radio Flyer wagons

It all started with a little red wagon. After the Ruder family’s newborn twins, Beau and Brooklyn, received great care as premature infants in the NICU at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois, the grateful parents wanted to give back.

Going Home - Erica's Story

After Erica's daughter Ellie was born early at 28 weeks, she has been by her daughter's side in the NICU everyday for 95 days. She stayed at Family House every night and rode the shuttle to Children's Hospital of Illinois every morning. And today, she gets to go home.

The evolution of visiting the NICU

Time brings change. Health care is different than what it used to be decades ago. While we now have access to new technology and research to better our care methods, health care today also emphasizes family-centered, patient-focused care.

Helms Quintuplets Turn 30

On March 2, 1987, Ron and Roz Helms of Peoria welcomed four daughters and a son. As they celebrate their children's 30th birthday, they reflect with emotion on such a life-changing event.

The Original Flying Nun Recreates Flight on 50th Anniversary

January 10, 1967 marked the first helicopter transport of a premature infant in the nation. Shannon Perry, who was then known as Sister Andre, returned to Peoria on the 50th anniversary of the flight to fly once again.

Life after the NICU

After spending their first six months of life in the NICU at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois, 9-year-old twins, Brie and Brynn, and their family felt compelled to give back. They started a nonprofit and host an annual golf tournament for Children’s Hospital that has raised over $15,000.

Donate to the NICU

Life in the NICU is never expected. It feels uncertain, scary and overwhelming. For parents, it is a continuous, 24-hour struggle full of ups and downs. Over the last 75 years, OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois has been right by their side. We are a family that has shared in every moment of joy and sorrow.

Each dollar we raise means better care for our smallest patients. With a donation today, you become an even greater part of our family and help our patients when they need it most. Thank you for your support. These 75 years were made possible by you.

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Children's Hospital of Illinois' First Neonatologist

Dr. Tim Miller

From 1972 to 1995, Dr. Tim Miller was the director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Combining his leadership with the ongoing nursing leadership and the overwhelming commitment of the Sisters, the NICU has become one of the most successful NICUs in the U.S. Dr. Miller continues to serve OSF HealthCare as the Director of Academic Affairs.

I felt like these babies were looking to us for help and are completely dependent on the skills of the nurses, doctors and technology. So I felt it to be a very important job to save these babies who might not have otherwise survived without us.

One of the most memorable moments, and my greatest challenge, was when we cared for the quintuplets who were born in 1987. At that time, they were the smallest surviving quintuplets in history. This was also before surfactant, which is a medicine to help with the development of premature lungs. So it was stressful for our entire team to get these babies well with the limited technology that was available during that time.

The patient outcomes and recognition we have received as being one of the top NICUs in by the Vermont Oxford Network.

I think our NICU is unique in the fact that we recognize our unit is a team effort. It’s not just the doctors – it’s the nurses, the respiratory therapists, dietitians, care managers and all the additional support services that work together to care for the babies in the unit.