Construction on Altru’s new hospital is expected to be completed in late 2024, but excitement is building in the current NICU. Three NICU staff members look ahead to how Altru’s NICU in the new hospital will create even better outcomes for our littlest of patients. Julie Loiland, NP, neonatal nurse practitioner; Tiffany Chambers, RNC-NIC, transport nurse; and Amber Bomber, RNC- NIC, patient care coordinator share their insights.
Question: What impacts do you anticipate the NICU in the new hospital will have on patients and family members?
Julie: Our current NICU is mostly an open bay unit, meaning most of the babies are in a large room together with minimal separation. In the new hospital, it will be a single-family room model in which the baby, along with his or her family, has a private room. This will allow parents to have private time with their baby and even spend the night.
There are studies that suggest that with individual rooms, parents spend significantly more time with their baby. More time together often results in more frequent skin-to-skin contact with the parents and for longer periods of time. This is associated with improvements in many areas such as weight gain, breastfeeding and neurodevelopment outcomes.
Question: How will the NICU in the new hospital impact staff and providers?
Tiffany: Increased parental presence will mean parents are more involved in feedings, diaper changes, and, of course, comforting their baby. Having the space for all the equipment will make it easier for us as staff to do our job while allowing parents to not feel in the way. Because of space limitations, our current space has an awkward setup for computers, monitors and IV pumps. A more ergonomic space for today’s technology will improve our musculoskeletal health.
Question: What are you most excited about for the NICU in the new hospital?
Tiffany: Seeing how parents will be more of a part of their infant’s care team is exciting. I know I am looking forward to having windows in the NICU! Twelve-hour shifts in the winter, in a space without windows, affects my mental health for sure.
Question: What makes your job worth it?
Julie: We are part of miracles every day. There is nothing more amazing and humbling than seeing the tiniest of humans fight to overcome obstacles from day one and then follow along with them on their up-and-down journey in the NICU until that wonderful day when they get to go home.
Tiffany: Seeing the joy on a parent’s face when they get to meet their new baby, hold them for the first time, or when they finally get to take their baby home is such a blessing. Also, when a baby has been in the NICU for weeks or months and a big sister or brother hasn’t been able to meet them until we walk out of the NICU at discharge . . . seeing that family’s joy is the best reward!
Amber: The best thing about my job is when we see the babies get better, grow and go home.