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New Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Lutheran Children’s Hospital Increases Capacity, Adds Private Rooms and Safeguards

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Nov. 19, 2008) — Lutheran Children's Hospital will open its $2.2 million newly expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on Fri., Nov. 21. The new area features 14 private rooms with two rooms for multiples, a family waiting area and dedicated treatment space. The existing NICU occupied 7,600 sq. ft. and the addition adds nearly 5,000 more sq. ft.

Other new amenities include individual refrigerators in the rooms as well as a breast milk tracer system that safeguards against errors by matching breast milk with the right infant. This tracking system allows nurses to scan the patient's wrist band and the barcode on the breast milk to verify a match, similar to the way medication is dispensed. LCH is the first hospital in the region to use the breast milk tracer system.

LCH can now accommodate 30 critically ill infants. For now, the existing NICU will remain an open area, but will be re-arranged to allow patients and families more space. The existing NICU will eventually be converted to private rooms during a second phase.

Lutheran's level III NICU is staffed by a team of professionals including five fellowship-trained, board-certified local neonatologists, as well as specially-trained nurses, therapists and other support staff. To further reinforce the personal attention given to these special critically ill infants, the NICU averages only two patients per nurse. The comforting environment of the new Lutheran NICU combines state-of-the-art technology with basics like sound and light control to maximize positive patient outcomes. Families can share more quality time with their infant in private rooms that provide sleeper sofas and WiFi access.

"Research has shown that developmental care techniques help reduce infant stress which can lead directly to shorter hospital stays and even better long-term developmental outcomes," said Janet Leezer, MD, Lutheran Children's Hospital. "It's important to include not only the infant, but also the parents. Parental involvement is integral for the families who stay with us in the NICU for weeks to months. We want the parents to feel part of their infant's care from day one to help ease the transition to home when the time comes."

Facts from Children's Medical Ventures Wee Care© training program related to developmental care:
Did you know that:

  • premature babies cannot modulate input from different senses until about 34 weeks causing overstimulation;
  • the auditory system is functional by 24 weeks but continues to develop;
  • premature babies cannot habituate noise and are very sensitive to noise;
  • too much noise around premature babies can cause increased oxygen requirements, increased heart rate, color changes, increased episodes of apnea and bradycardia, increase intracranial pressure and cause inability to sleep;
  • premature babies have physiologic changes with increased intensity of light, and
  • increased levels of light are associated with retinal damage.

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Lutheran Children's Hospital opened in 1999 as a result of several local pediatricians who envisioned bringing families throughout northeast Indiana access to expert pediatric medical care that wouldn't require a half-day's drive to receive. Today, Lutheran Children's Hospital teams with more than 75 pediatricians practicing in 27 areas of pediatric specialty in an environment filled with imagination and color. The award-winning design of the tree house elevator, specially decorated rooms, hallways and waiting areas invite children and their families to focus on something other than the often unpleasant purpose of their visit. Lutheran Children's Hospital believes children are special people, not just small adults.


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