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    What Parents Should Expect with a Child in the NICU

    Cara Wongngamnit and Kelly Carrico 12/06/2022
    Addressing Neonatal Needs
    Most babies cared for in the NICU are premature. They are of low birth weight or some type of condition that requires special care, such as restorative stress, low blood sugar, feeding issues, or a possible infection.
    At Deaconess The Women’s Hospital, the NICU consists of a multidisciplinary team of neonatologists, advanced practice providers, registered nurses, registered respiratory therapists, occupational and physical therapists, dieticians, lactation consultants, social workers, a NICU pharmacist, and a discharge specialist. “All participate in the rounds. It takes many disciplines to care for our babies in the NICU,” states Kelly Carrico, clinical nurse and manager of the NICU at Deaconess.
    Deaconess is a level-three hospital for NICU and has the capacity to provide comprehensive care for sick babies born at all gestational ages and birth weights—thanks to state-of-the-art technology. NICU staff is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

    Access and Accommodations
    The NICU team encourages parents to be with their baby as much as possible. Parents are welcome in the NICU anytime day or night, with the exceptions of 6:30 to 7:45 a.m. and 6:30 to 7:45 p.m.
    “This is because it is our nursing report time. So, for the privacy of the patients, we do close the unit for a small time. But other than that, it's open 24 hours. The unit may also close when a baby is having a special procedure or care done,” explains Cara Wongngamnit Director of Newborn Services.
    If families do not reside in the immediate vicinity, they may be eligible to stay during the day or overnight at the Ronald McDonald House located on the Deepness Gateway campus. The Ronald McDonald House provides a homelike environment for NICU families, offering comfort and support so parents can focus on their baby during hospitalization.
    “One of the benefits of having the Ronald McDonald House on our campus is that our parents do not go outside of the building to get to the Ronald McDonald House. They remain inside of the building and can go back and forth. Which is a great benefit to our parents,” notes Carrico.

    Preparing Parents for Home Life
    Education is a key component of NICU care. Parents receive information about basic newborn care, feeding, bathing, temperature taking, skin-to-skin care, soothing techniques, developmental care, safe sleep, touch, and massage techniques.
    Education also encompasses discharge preparation—which actually begins the day of admission.
    “Parents are encouraged to actively participate in the care of their baby as soon as possible in the NICU, for example, changing a baby's diaper or taking their temperature. Prior to going home, parents have the opportunity to care for their baby with the NICU staff available to answer questions and provide support to the families. Before discharge, our NICU team will review discharge instructions, nutritional needs, developmental needs, and address any concerns or questions that the parents may,” assures Carrico.
    The dedicated NICU discharge coordinator arranges follow-up scheduling with the multidisciplinary team. “Babies may also be referred to a developmental follow-up clinic to access their developmental performance in areas of communication, growth, and fine motor skills. The purpose of the clinic is to identify developmental delays as early as possible and connect the baby with appropriate interventions so they reach important developmental milestones,” says Wongngamnit.
    If a transport is needed, the Women's Hospital Neonatal transport team is a highly skilled group that will provide services for that hospital.
    “Our parents and our patients are our focus. It's very important for our families to go home safely together and be prepared to take care of the baby once they do get home. Our nurses have a lot of education skills and training. We really try to work together as a team to make sure the baby goes home as soon as possible,” shares Wongngamnit.
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