This story was originally published in BWH Bulletin.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital moved some of its tiniest patients and their families into new private, spacious, and sunshine-filled rooms in late July 2016, following the first phase of a historic transition into the expanded Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
“It was an amazing, coordinated effort from nursing, physicians, respiratory therapy, IT, biomed, engineering, and family support to move our smallest and sickest infants without any incident and with full celebration of the new surroundings by all,” says Terrie E. Inder, MD, PhD, MBChB, chair of Pediatric Newborn Medicine.
Coordinated by a command center, teams of staffers transported each crib or isolette one-at-a time to the new NICU space, located across the hall from the original NICU on the sixth floor of the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health. Care teams communicated with the command center via two-way radios throughout each transport, with other clinical staff going through safety checklists before and after each move.
Made possible largely by donor support, the addition features a hybrid design to enhance babies’ brain development, reduce infections, and increase family involvement. Private patient rooms accommodate the most high-need patients and their families, and a separate growth and development area with small open bays provide a therapeutic environment for infants who are beyond the acute medical stage. The addition also includes gathering areas for learning and socializing for NICU families.
With the new space now open, the hospital is focusing on renovating the original NICU in two phases, to be complete by November 2017. This expansion project will triple the size of the original NICU.
Jessica Bordes-Joyner’s infant daughter, Kaia, was one of the first babies moved into the new addition in late July.
“It’s so calm and bright in here, and I think a lot of families are really going to appreciate that because you’re going to go through a lot of hard times in the NICU, but this uplifts it a little bit,” Bordes-Joyner said. “It takes off a little of the anxiety a family may be going through.”
Julie Cadogan, RN, a nurse in the NICU whose patients were part of the move, says the new space will help NICU babies grow and develop in a more peaceful environment.
“I think the new unit is going to be a great place for our patients and their families,” Cadogan said.
Bordes-Joyner says the most valuable part of her family’s stay here has been the high-quality, compassionate care they have received at BWH over the years. After suffering a miscarriage late into her previous pregnancy, Bordes-Joyner and her family were devastated. When they returned to BWH for Kaia’s birth, they were overwhelmed by the support they received.
“They treated us like family,” Bordes-Joyner said. “When we knew we were having Kaia, our care team was just as excited as we were. When I came into delivery, the nurses on the fifth floor remembered me from two years ago. They were rooting for us and made Kaia’s birth so much more special.”