Integrating Neonatal Intensive Care Into a Family Birth Center: Describing the Integrated NICU (I-NIC)

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The Journal of perinatal & neonatal nursing


BACKGROUND: Parent-infant separation resulting from admission to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is often reported as the most challenging and distressing experience for parents. Aiming to mitigate the stress of parent-infant separation, a new neonatal care model was designed to integrate NIC with delivery and postpartum care. Yet, little is known about the model and its implementation.

METHODS: Using a qualitative descriptive design with field observations, we describe the characteristics of an integrated-neonatal intensive care (I-NIC) model and examined perceptions of clinical staff (n = 8) and parents (n = 3).

RESULTS: The physical layout of the I-NIC rooms required additional oxygen and suction columns and new signage to specify them as NICU-equipped. Other NICU-related equipment was mobile, thus moved into rooms when necessary. Nurses were cross-trained in labor/delivery, postpartum, neonatal care; however, nurses primarily worked within their specific area of expertise. Clinician and parent perceptions of the model were notably positive, reporting decreased anxiety related to separation, increased ability for chest feeding and skin-to-skin care, and improved interdisciplinary care.

CONCLUSION: Future work is needed to understand implementation of the model in other settings, with specific attention to unit architecture, level of NICU care services, patient census, and staff and patient outcomes.

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ePub ahead of print