NICU Options in the Twin Cities

UPDATE 2/14/13: After posting this, I got an update saying Children’s Minneapolis was a Level IV, and St. Paul was a Level III. From this AAP chart, you can see the level designation that were in place until last August.  After that, the AAP issued these revised guidelines, which helps explain the “Level IV” and “Level III” designations some of the hospitals are now going by.  However, some places are still sticking with the old levels, so there will be a mix of both below.  I have corrected some errors below.

I’m not even sure what got me thinking about this, but this morning, I woke up curious what the different Twin Cities hospitals had for options for Special Care Nurseries and NICUs.  I knew there were different levels and was aware of some of the differences from hospital to hospital, but t struck me that I didn’t know the information for every hospital.  It took me some digging online, a few phone calls, and even a couple of well- answered tweets, but I was able to put this little chart together. (More information on the various level designations can be found here.)

Hospital NICU Level How many weeks gestation?
Children’s St. Paul (United) IIIb  III 24 weeks
Children’s Minneapolis (Abbott) IIIc  IV 22 weeks
Hennepin County Medical Center IIIb 23-24 weeks
Maple Grove II Info not found
Methodist II 32 weeks
Mercy II  Info Not Found
North Memorial Medical Center III 23 weeks
Regions II 30 weeks
Fairview Ridges IIIa 30 weeks
Fairview Riverside (Amplatz Children’s) IV Info not found
Saint Frances II Late preterm
Saint Joseph’s II 34 weeks
Saint John’s IIIa 28 weeks
Fairview Southdale IIIa 30 weeks
Unity II 34 weeks
Woodwinds II 34 weeks

*The Level IV designation is used to indicate a very specialized level of care is available  but is not recognized formally by the American Academy of Pediatrics as a designation.  (See above)

Now, as I used to tell families on hospital tours, I hope you never have to see the insides of any of these nurseries, but the information is still good to know, especially if you have a higher risk pregnancy.  For low risk pregnancies, this is probably not an important factor– making sure you give birth in the place you are most comfortable with a care team that you trust is of utmost importance   In the cases where there is a greater chance of complication, it might be a good idea to plan to give birth at a hospital where they will have the capacity to care for your child, rather than give birth at one hospital and have your baby transferred elsewhere.  Please note– this is by no means the only thing you need to consider when choosing a place of birth.  However, for pregnancies with a higher level of risk, this is something to think about!

Did you consider NICUs when choosing a place of birth?  Is this information helpful?  Sound off below!






Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.


  1. Jenny says


    This is SO helpful! Thank you for putting this together. The home birth midwives in the community are slowly (in our spare time!) putting together a list of hospitals and if they allow VBAC’s, planned breech etc, and we will incorporate this info into the chart also.

    Personally, this is very helpful as well, because as a midwife, I was planning a home birth (and will again with baby number 2 whenever that happens) but when I unexpectedly went into labor at 34 weeks, I went to St. Francis with my husband and midwife. The labor and delivery care there was excellent by the nurses, the doctor was well, a doctor, but fine, but my real problem was with how long they made my daughter stay in the NICU even though she was healthy and no complications were ever found. I didn’t get to sleep with her until the night before we were discharged even. I will always plan a home birth, and if there is a complication requiring a hospital transport but I am term, I will go back to St. Francis, if I am preterm again, I will go to North Memorial or Abbott since they see really little babies and will probably let me take my baby home sooner :)

    So – that was my long reply and way of saying thanks for compiling info that hopefully I’ll not need personally again, but as a midwife may need in the future.

  2. Jennifer Fitzgerald says

    The NICU at Amplatz cares for babies >23 weeks. Thank you for making this chart. Let me know if you ever have any other questions. I have been a staff nurse there for 10+ years.

    • admin says

      Thank you for that clarification! Most of the info came from calling the units, and someone could have easily been off.

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