Newborns + new building = enhanced care
Date: April 1, 2012
For high-risk preemies, moving them unnecessarily is the enemy—a message neonatologist Sue Aucott took to heart in helping design Johns Hopkins’ new neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). And what’s critical to their safe transport, she stresses, is a close proximity between Labor and Delivery and the NICU.
“The less we transport these babies,” says Aucott, “the better.”
In the new configuration, moving is minimal. The NICU and Labor and Delivery are within a whisper of each other on the eighth floor of the new clinical building, with the obstetric ORs as a connector. High-risk neonates are now handed to NICU staff immediately after delivery.
More than proximity went into planning, says OB Nurse Manager Joan Diamond. “Our units were designed as the ultimate in care, with high-risk newborns in mind.”
But for that care to happen, communication is key.
As in the previous units, status-sharing between OB and neonatology staff is a given in the new building. Now, however, OB census screens on highly visible NICU computers alert staff to high-risk mothers while they're still in Labor and Delivery. When labor is underway, OB staff text the NICU’s response team to prepare for the newborn.
Should complications arise with any infant, pre- or full-term, the NICU and Labor and Delivery are well-situated, being part of an academic medical center with multiple subspecialty services readily available.
Another plus: family-friendly amenities are prominent in the new units, including all-private rooms with sleeping facilities and on-demand meals. No longer will a postpartum mom miss dinner while visiting her newborn in the NICU.
Parents can access three private sleep rooms with cooking, bathing and laundry facilities. And a new call system eliminates overhead pages—it’s a quieter environment for newborns and families.
“With a private room and decreased stimulation,” says NICU Nurse Manager Sue Culp, “parents can really focus on their baby.”
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