Babies born prematurely or those with certain health conditions may be admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo or Sisters of Charity Hospital

Our NICUs set us apart from other hospitals by providing family-centered care with a comprehensive approached that is personalized for each baby. Having both an ICU and NICU in the same hospital also allows us to treat mother and child at the same facility in a matter of minutes, resulting in the best possible outcomes.

There are four levels of NICU care.

  • At Mercy Hospital, we have a Level II NICU, for babies who are born after 32 weeks gestation or who are recovering from more serious conditions.
  • At Sisters Hospital, we have a Level III NICU, for babies born as early as 23 weeks gestation as well as babies born with critical illness at all gestational ages.

In our NICUs, one nurse is assigned to only two or three babies.

Neonatal Intensive Care Units

Therapy in the NICU

When babies are born prematurely, they have yet to meet their full term milestones. To help your baby gain these skills, he or she may receive therapy while in the NICU.

Working with your baby’s doctors and nurses, our therapists create a care plan for your baby to address his or her unique needs. They also support mom and dad, teaching you how to care for your baby with confidence.

Our Therapists

Our NICU Rehabilitation team includes:

  • Debbie Bueme, PT, CIMI
  • Lori Cyrek, MS PT, NTMC
  • Mary Edelson, OTR/L, IBCLC
  • Wendy Gonzalez, PT, CIMI, NTMC
  • Teresa Kufel, OTR/L, NTMC
  • Lynn McIvor, MS, OTR/L
  • Lisa Milosevski, MS OTR/L, CLC, CIMI, NTMC
  • Diane Weissman, OTR/L, IBCLC, CIMI

Many of our therapists are certified in specialty areas, including infant massage and lactation consultation.

Contact Us: If you have questions, please call (716) 862-1101.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist (PT) works with premature babies who are 28 weeks gestational age and older.

Your baby’s therapist will focus on:

Positioning: Placing your baby in the fetal position can improve his or her development and prevent deformities. It also comforts your baby.

Range of Motion Exercises: These exercises help to increase circulation, stimulate bone growth and develop muscle tone.

Massage: Massage is a form of positive touch that contributes to your baby’s growth and makes him or her more accepting of touch.

Skin Care: Your baby’s skin condition will be checked regularly and specialized treatment will be provided, if needed.

Occupational Therapy

An occupational therapist (OT) works with premature babies who are 32 weeks gestational age and older.

They focus on:

Feeding: Very young babies are often fed using nasal or oral tubes because they do not yet have the ability to suck, swallow and breathe during feeding.

When bottle feeding begins, your therapist will recommend how to position your baby for safe feeding and the type of nipple to use on your bottle. Before your baby leaves the NICU, the therapist will work with you to feed your baby with the bottles you will be using at home, so that feeding success continues after discharge.

Massage: Positive touch via massage helps to enhance your baby’s developing nervous system, improve your baby’s tolerance to handling and enhance the parent-child bond while the baby is in the NICU.

Parent Education: Your baby’s therapist will teach you how to hold, handle and comfort your baby. You’ll learn how to feed him or her and how to understand cues that your baby uses to communicate with you. You may also learn a bathing technique called swaddle bathing.

Educational handouts will be provided before your baby’s discharge home.

Babies with Prolonged Stays

If your baby has a prolonged stay, therapy will focus on skills that are addressed in the Early Intervention (EI) Program. This is a program offered by the New York State Department of Health. 

After your baby is discharged, he or she may be referred to the EI program for continued therapy at home.

Contact Us

If you have questions about therapy in the NICU, please call (716) 862-1101.

Cuddler Program

For babies in the NICU, cuddling can lead to better tolerance of pain, more stable body temperatures and stronger vital signs.

The NICU Cuddler Program supports the development and growth of premature babies by providing advanced volunteer “cuddlers”. The volunteers are hospital-trained to interact with premature babies during times when their parents can’t be with them at the hospital.

Our volunteers put babies at ease in the midst of beeping monitors and the echo of machines at work. The cuddlers hold the babies, read to them or quietly sing to them. This serene interaction provides comfort and appropriate stimulation, which helps premature infants to grow faster and hopefully go home sooner. Volunteers do not feed, change diapers or walk around with the babies.

Our cuddlers go through extensive training beyond what is required of a typical volunteer at the hospital. They must maintain strict infection control practices, in addition to all the hospital and NICU policies and confidentiality requirements.

Rooms for Parents

Mercy Hospital

Prior to baby's discharge, parents can stay overnight in a standard patient room to familiarize themselves with the 24-hour needs of their baby. While we cannot reserve rooms in advance, we do our best to accommodate NICU parents who need to be with their baby.

Sisters Hospital

We have two suites available for parents to bond with their baby in the NICU.

Prior to discharge, parents are encouraged to spend the night with their baby in the suites. This gives parents the opportunity to gain confidence in caring for their baby. The suites are assigned as available.

Friends and family members are also welcome to visit. Click here for more information about visitors in the NICU

After Your Visit

If you have questions about your baby after your visit, you can obtain the most up-to-date information about your baby by calling the hospital. Feel free to call anytime but understand that information will only be released to the parents. You will be asked for your baby’s ID number each time you visit or call.