Implementing Family-Integrated Care in the NICU
Last fall, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel, launched a pilot program geared towards the empowerment of parents in the care of their infants. This program, Family-Integrated Care (FIC), is the only program of its kind in the Portland Metro area.
With exceptional outcomes and survival rates among the best in the country, the NICU has embraced family-centered care, which promotes parent and infant interaction, for years. This new pilot, which builds upon current practices, is meant to take this care to the next level. Based off a model that originated in Sweden, the program will strive to create an environment that is truly family-focused by allowing parents to provide all care, with the exception of the most advanced medical care, for their infant. This care is guided and supported by their health-care team.
The NICU currently provides two rooms that encompass this focus, with a dedicated nursing team that is continually involved in the program’s modifications and success. As families are identified and enter into the program, they are assigned a dedicated team, who then begins educating and training parents on how to independently care for their infant once they leave the hospital. The transition of the room is to improve the comfort for families, thus allowing them to spend an increased amount of time bonding with their infant, ideally by providing Kangaroo Care (skin-to-skin contact). Several studies have demonstrated that families who are present and provide the majority of care independently, with support from the health-care professions, result in infants with better weight gain, shorter hospitalizations, and less hospital acquired infections. It has also been shown that families have less anxiety when discharged and feel more equipped to care for their infants.
“We are extremely excited about the family-integrated care model,” said Dr. Sweeney. “Our goal is to reduce the length of stays for families, equip families from the moment they are admitted on how to care for their critically ill infant and to also promote Kangaroo Care. We truly want families to feel confident when they take their infant home.”
The Ray family was one of the first families to participate in the pilot program. At five weeks old, Logan was transferred to the NICU at Randall Children’s Hospital from his home in Bend, Oregon. Logan and his parents, Valerie and Robert, spent a little over two months at the hospital. “It’s taken away the anxiety and fear of taking Logan home,” said Valerie. “We got to do everything – changing diapers, feeding, bathing. If we weren’t doing it and wanted to, we’d ask and if it wasn’t involving machines or injections, our nurse would help us learn.”
The nursing staff provided care to their son as well as encouragement and education to his parents, allowing them the freedom and confidence to head back to their hometown knowing they can manage his care. “The nurses didn’t judge us no matter what our questions were or if we needed extra help,” said Robert. “We knew that once we were allowed to head home – that we could do this – we could continue Logan’s care on our own.” Often dressed as Superman and affectionately known as “tough guy” by his parents and NICU staff, Logan is now home in Bend, growing, happy and healthy.
Since the pilot launch, the program has cared for 10 families in the two FIC rooms. The goal is to reach five rooms by the end of 2017 and 10 in the next few years.
For media inquiries, contact Ashley Stanford Cone
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