New parents’ dreams of holding their new babies and gazing lovingly at them in their first moments are sometimes derailed by a premature birth or other condition that requires a stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It’s nice to know a hospital is equipped to handle the specialized health care needs of newborns, but it can be difficult to deal with it all in the midst of a stressful environment that can include other high-risk infants—and their worried parents.
“It is very typical for NICUs to have an open bay environment where there are multiple babies being cared for at the same time,” says Michelle Slayman, RN, Director of Perinatal Services, St.Vincent Carmel Hospital. “It’s not uncommon to hear multiple alarms or see several parents in a shared NICU space, which can be stressful for the baby as well as the parents.”
Better for baby
We hope to alleviate some of that stress in our Level III NICU with new private rooms. Now babies can have a quieter place to rest and grow, and parents can be more easily involved in the daily care of their infant.
“Private NICU rooms provide a more peaceful environment for babies and parents because they take into account that a stay in the NICU is a family experience,” explains Anne Marnocha, M.D., a neonatologist at St.Vincent Carmel.
Dr. Marnocha says that, ultimately, private NICU rooms – which can also accommodate twins and even triplets – provide better control of the baby’s environment, with less noise and activity, fewer interruptions to sleep, and an environment that is more conducive for improved developmental outcome.
Privacy for families
The private NICU rooms – with soothing artwork, music and a family space – enhance the parents’ experience as well by giving them a place to process the health care concerns and spend more one-on-one time with their child.
“Sometimes anxiety increases simply by watching what’s going on with others, Slayman says. “We’re able to reduce some parents’ fears by giving them a more private, intimate and comfortable setting.”