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WakeMed expands NICU, offers private rooms for moms, babies

Posted February 20

Courtesy: WakeMed

WakeMed's Raleigh Campus is the first hospital in the area to provide private rooms for both mom and baby in the neonatal intensive care unit.

The Level IV NICU expansion at the Raleigh campus opens today. With the project comes single-room care for moms and their newborns who need special medical attention.

The expansion adds 12 beds for a total of 48 neonatal beds at WakeMed. Those beds include 27 in private rooms where families can spend almost unlimited time with their baby, according to WakeMed.

The proximity also will allow for some privacy while new moms are breastfeeding or pumping or for mom and dad to practice what's called kangaroo care or skin-to-skin care when a parent holds a diapered baby against her bare chest. Kangaroo care has many benefits for sick and healthy babies. It can help babies maintain body warmth; regulate heart and breathing rates; and gain weight, according to the March of Dimes.

The rooms also have a refrigerator so moms can store their breast milk.

I can imagine having their often very sick little ones so close to them during those critical first days and weeks will be a huge blessing for lots of families out there.

The expanded unit also includes artwork, lighting and colors pulled from nature. Local artist Richard Garrison is donating nearly $100,000 worth of art.

WakeMed also is expanding the role of its NICU volunteers, I'm told. Volunteers began rocking babies years ago. Now they will read to the babies, keep the babies calm if they are undergoing treatment and more. 

11 Comments

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  • tri123 Feb 22, 7:26 p.m.

    Having this set up so the incubator is so far away from the nurse's window makes no sense. You've also got a nurse workstation where the screens are facing a room where any members of the public could be reading over their shoulder. Who ever designed this space wasn't thinking about the health care workflow function at all. I'm not saying the previous design was ideal, it's drawbacks for families are obvious, but if you were going to totally re-imagine the space, why wouldn't you do a good job of it?

  • Lady Justice Feb 21, 11:00 a.m.

    My twins were born at 26wks. My husband and I spent many weeks in the NICU. One of positives... View More

    — Posted by Deb1003

    Maybe you needed the support of other parents, but I did not. I disagree that bonding with other parents would have been "equally" important. I wanted private time with my baby and my family.

    I can see some negatives with this set up, but I also see a lot of positives. I think a lot depends on how much the family would be present in the NICU with thier child. If this had been available to me, I would have been able to spend a lot more time with my baby. The way it was when my son was there, you could not rest, and had little space and privacy to breastfeed and have a parent/relative/friend in there with you. I appreciated the support of my family and friends.

  • hldrtn Feb 21, 9:02 a.m.

    My son was in the NICU for a few weeks and it was so hard for me to not be there with him, this is great news for Wake Med.....need the best care for the baby and whole family. Good Luck to the whole staff in the NICU !

  • pedsrndad Feb 21, 12:42 a.m.

    All these niceties sound good but I feel for the Nurses on staff that will not have as much close observation time of the infants as they had in the past but will still bear full responsibility for the outcome of the hospitalization. One question the administration of WakeMed probably does not want asked is the Nurse/patient ratio in the new unit as compared to other similar facilities. From past personal experience I know WakeMed likes the "warm fuzzies" approach when it comes to patient care at the expense of staff. Nurses in that area face a grave danger to their licenses.

  • Obamacare for America Feb 20, 9:33 p.m.

    Hopefully no one mistakenly puts the breast milk in their morning cup of coffee. :O

  • outhousecat Feb 20, 3:50 p.m.

    Has the cost of stay gone up for these rooms vs the old style NICU? What is the ratio of nurses to patients? These are the questions that need answering. If WRALis going to do a fluff piece, they could at leadt try to include a few relevant facts.

  • 20pearlsgirl Feb 20, 3:21 p.m.

    My daughter was not premature, but was born with pneumonia and had breathing problems. She was delivered by emergency c-section, so I was in one area of the hospital and she was in another. I was not able to see her for nearly 36 hours. It would have been a godsend to have her in my room where we could bond and still get the specialized treatments she needed. Great call, Wake Med!

  • Deb1003 Feb 20, 2:45 p.m.

    My twins were born at 26wks. My husband and I spent many weeks in the NICU. One of positives was being able to bond not only w/ the NICU nurses, but also the other parents that were going through the same thing we were, incredibly small babies being kept alive. I understand that some people need privacy, but the support of other parents in the same situation is equally important. I guess this scenerio gives the parent an option...but I gained strength knowing and getting to know other parents in the same situation.

  • buford Feb 20, 2:36 p.m.

    This is wonderful...so happy to hear WakeMed is finally spending their money on something important...

  • silvfx Feb 20, 2:16 p.m.

    Premature births are an epidemic in this country and this type of support is needed. As father of twin preemies I can tell you how hard it is to participate in your child's care when you are in a ward with 5 other equally sick children and their families. The real answers lay in research thats why the March of Dimes is so important.

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