On Tuesday, Yale New Haven Children's Hospital (YNHCH) opened a new two-floor NICU that allows admitted mothers and their newborn infants to share a private room while receiving the care they need. The opening makes YNHCH the first academic hospital in the United States to offer such rooms and comes amid a nationwide shift to family-centered care, Rebecca Lurye writes for the Hartford Courant.
Typically, newborns admitted to intensive care share a nursery with multiple infants, making it difficult for parents to stay by their newborns' bedside, Lurye writes. But YNHCH's new NICU rooms include features such as fold-out couches so that family can sleep nearby.
Mark Mercurio, YNHCH's chief of neonatal-perinatal medicine, said, "Most NICUS in the country, what you would you hear is, 'OK, if you want to lay down, what you have to do is go home.' ... Now there's a nice place for you to lay down three feet from your baby, where you can even stay all night."
The new set up also helps out nurses, Lurye writes, who appreciate parents' aid in feeding and changing newborns, as well as watching for small changes in their condition.
Matt Bizzarro, the NICU's medical director, said, "Before, families were more of observers than participants in care and that model has changed tremendously," adding, "Now we know families are a really important, critical aspect of care in the hospital and certainly in the transition from hospital to home."
In addition to the private rooms, YNHCH's NICU is one of only a few hospital units to have a breast milk management room, a simulation lab, and a procedure room—which lets doctors transport fragile newborns down a hallway as opposed to across a hospital. The hospital also plans to add an MRI that is specially designed for premature newborns.
According to Lurye, the new breast milk management room facilitates care by enabling nurses to perform the complicated process necessary to add fortifiers to breast milk behind closed doors rather than at a patient's bedside.
Cynthia Sparer, the SVP of operations at Yale New Haven and the executive director of the Children's Hospital and Women's Services, said these recent additions have made YNHCH's NICU the most advanced in the country. "Our vision to create a bright, spacious, unprecedented intensive care unit across two floors is now a reality and serves as a national model for others," she said (Lurye, Hartford Courant, 1/30).
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