NICU gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence

Our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is now the 12th in the U.S. to receive a gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). We are the only hospital in Northern California to receive this honor. The Beacon Award for Excellence — a significant milestone on the path to exceptional patient care and healthy work environments — recognizes caregivers who successfully improve patient outcomes and align practices with AACN’s six Healthy Work Environment Standards. These standards are skilled communication, true collaboration, effective decision making, appropriate staffing, meaningful recognition and authentic leadership.

Best Children's Hospital badge for neonatology 2021-22

Nationally ranked

Our neonatology program ranked 29th nationally in the 2021–2022 U.S. News & World Report Best Children’s Hospitals survey.


The UC Davis Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is a level IV-designated nursery (the highest possible rating) for the Sacramento region, providing clinical care for infants throughout Northern California and conducting research on health problems facing infants, including those who are born very prematurely, are extremely ill, or require surgery.

New chief of neonatology

Steven McElroy, new chief of neonatology

Steven McElroy joined UC Davis Children’s Hospital as the new chief of neonatology in 2021. His longstanding interests include understanding the injury and repair mechanisms of the developing small intestine and how it specifically relates to neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis.

DAISY Foundation honors nurse leader

NICU nurse manager Sheryl Ruth was the individual award recipient for the DAISY Nurse Leader Award in 2021. She has been recognized for her dedication, advocacy and support in improving processes throughout our Neonatal ICU. Sheryl and her team successfully implemented solutions and improved bedside practices that helped our hospital obtain Gold Level National Safe Sleep certification.