The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation recently unveiled the first of 11 neonatal intensive care units that will be specially designed to mimic the nurturing environment of the mother’s womb, reduce the stress of the NICU experience and help the immediate and long term health of premature babies.
“We want to improve the quality of care and health outcomes of the littlest New Yorkers by dramatically reducing stressful external stimulation and nurturing them as if they never left their mother’s womb prematurely,” said HHC President Alan Aviles.
“Loud noises and bright lights interrupt babies sleep patterns and interfere with the healing and developmental process that occurs during their sleep. We know that premature babies who receive developmental care which eliminates external stimuli can feed on their own quicker, go home sooner and ultimately have better short and long-term outcomes than babies who don't.”
HHC’s Queens Hospital Center NICU has been retrofitted with high tech incubators and monitoring devices to control excessive light, noise and room temperatures, which have been proven to impact a premature baby’s ability to wean from oxygen support, reach desirable weight and be discharged from the hospital sooner.
“The number of at-risk pregnancies continues to climb, especially pregnancies affected by obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. All of these factors increase the risk of preterm birth. The NICU redesign ensures that Queens Hospital and HHC’s other neonatal intensive care units are the best facilities for at-risk mothers-to-be and their infants in New York City,” said Dr. Ivan Hand, director of Neonatology, Queens Hospital Center.
HHC’s 11 hospitals treat a disproportionate number of the City’s high-risk pregnancies and delivered more than 23,000 babies in 2007. Last year nearly 24 percent or 5,523 babies were born prematurely or critically ill, and required treatment in the NICU’s. According to the March of Dimes, prematurity and low birth weight is the leading cause of neonatal death within the first month of life among babies born in the United States.
“Implementing developmental and family-centered care as a best practice in the public hospitals will have enormous measurable impact in the areas of public health and maternal child healthcare including long and short term outcomes, length of stay, parental bonding and coping, staff satisfaction and hospital costs,” said Dr. Randi Wasserman, Developmental Care Initiative Principal Investigator/Co-director, Bellevue Hospital Center Regional Perinatal Center. “Our program is unique and innovative and will serve as a model for other NICU’s across the city, state and country.”
“The Developmental Care training provided by the nursing staff allows new parents and caregivers to quickly become comfortable and confident in handling the baby. Since the babies’ hospital stays are shorter, developmental care unites families faster and is cost-effective,” said Leah Smith, RN, AED, Women’s Health Services.
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, the largest municipal hospital and health care system in the country, is a $5.4 billion public benefit corporation that serves 1.3 million New Yorkers and nearly 400,000 who are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 80 community based clinics.
For more information about HHC, visit www.nyc.gov/hhc.