News from Sickkids NICU - developmental care room pilot goes ahead

Sickkids Neonatal Intensive Care Unit will build the pilot developmental care room over the next few days. The six bed room will be home during the entire course of stay for babies under 1500 grams or those very susceptible to neural stimulation such as changes in sound and light. Dr Jonathan Hellmann explained that the idea that controlling environmental stimuli is positive for preemies makes common sense and research shows parents are happier and more involved and feeding is more successful; however the full effect on the babies has yet to be thoroughly researched.

Renovating a busy intensive care facility home to very fragile infants is difficult as babies are transferred to other rooms and efforts have to be made to reduce the banging on two walls and its effects on infants in adjoining rooms. Sickkids NICU has been very busy running at capacity for several weeks and have recently gotten busier with the Ministry's addition of three new beds. Three beds doesn't sound like a lot however, in this unit, doing the work it does, just three beds feels like it pulls out the very last bit of flex.

The renovation follows almost exactly a year after the Toronto Star wrote about a pilot developmental care room to be launched by the end of 2008 and focused on NICU parent input: a NICU dad explained their baby started to feed, digest, add weight and sleep better in an isolated and quiet room but after moving to a brighter, noisier bed by a nurses station the baby immediately struggled to thrive. The renovated room provides a central location for a new developmental care program with specialized staff, environmental controls and new continuous monitoring equipment already started elsewhere on the unit. The room was artly supported by two NICU parents' fundraising in July 2007.

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