Our child life specialist, Rebecca Meyer, gives a first-hand account of the benefits in having all private rooms in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. See how this one feature in our new hospital is already having a profound impact on the health of our patients and their families.
By Rebecca Meyer
I am a child life specialist in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and my role is to support infants and families through their emotional and developmental journey of hospitalization. I help parents learn to interact and play with their children, giving voice to some of our tiniest patients. I take a family-centered care approach helping families to spend meaningful moments together.
I had been involved in the planning and preparation for the move throughout the past few years and was extremely excited to see patients in the spaces we had spent so much time dreaming about. At our old hospital in Lincoln Park, some of our infants had shared a room with seven other babies often making it a hustling, bustling space and not exactly the most ideal, quiet, healing environment. In the new hospital, we now have individual rooms for all of the infants with plenty of room for families to comfortably visit at the bedside.
The night before my first shift at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, I was so excited that I had a hard time sleeping and came in to work early to see the brand new Lurie Children’s NICU. As I entered the unit, it was quiet and dimly lit – a perfect environment for premature infants. One of the nurse practitioners who worked that first night, said that she did not hear one alarm go off all night, the babies loved the new space and were actually sleeping for long periods of time and potentially needing less medication and sedation. Win for the Lurie Children’s NICU!
One of the other big changes that developed as a result of single rooms is a change to our sibling visitation policy. In our old hospital, siblings could only visit for short periods of time and only if they were older than 2 years of age. This had a significant impact on our families with twins because the twins were often separated for months at a time, without contact or the ability for the whole family to be together in one space. Grace is a patient that has been at the hospital for almost one year now and has not been able to spend any time with her twin sister Ava. Now that she has her own room with a beautiful view of the lake, her sister can visit and now plays next to her on a playmat. Ava reaches out to her and holds her hand as Grace works to move her head in Ava’s direction. It is so touching to be able to see this family of four together in one space finally, another Lurie Children’s NICU win!