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Duke Provides Critical Care, Comfort At Improved Neonatal Unit

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DURHAM — For babies born weeks or even months early, the type of care they get is critical.

Taking care of premature babies is a real challenge. Besides medications and machines, they need extra special care.

Duke recently renovated its Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery to focus on the needs of premature babies and their families.

"We cannot treat just the baby. We have to treat the entire family unit," says Michael Alton, clinical operations director.

At first glance, the improvements are not that noticeable, but they will make a big difference.For example, carpet and acoustic tiles keep noise down.

"Some of the younger babies, their brains are fragile enough that their blood pressure can actually go up so they get a bleed in their brain," says Alton.

Cycled light is also important. Premature babies are very sensitive to light. As they get older, nurses set the lights to mimic night and day.

As babies get stronger, they are moved to the new transitional care unit. Parents take over more of the care in preparation for the big day when they take their baby home.

Duke has also added family care rooms. The hotel-like setting is a place where parents can spend the night with their child, and where help is just a call away.


Ken Bodine, Photographer
Andrea Moody, Producer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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