NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — When Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters first opened their neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) 48 years ago, the facility could only fit 20 beds in a single room.
The newly redesigned NICU unit now has 50 private rooms and 10 rooms with two beds each to promote individual and more “family-centered” care.
This renovation was five years in the making. The first group of babies was able to move into the new NICU in October of 2019. The final 48 babies were transferred to the unit in mid-September.
Leaders with CHKD say because of how delicate the infants are, a single transfer to the new NICU took up to eight staff members. A team of doctors, respiratory therapists, nurse practitioners, nurses, and others would have to roll the babies in incubators from the seventh floor to the fourth.
The number of children who can be cared for in the new unit is the same, but all 70 beds have space for a parent to spend the night or rest.
“These tiny babies really need more space than you would think,” said Dr. Jamil Khan, a neonatologist who is the medical director of the NICU.
The unit admits 500 to 600 babies a year, with an average length of stay of 41 days. The tiniest babies, those weighing less than 2.3 pounds, stay an average of 87 days.
The NICU also features a new family lounge where parents can “buy” books and clothing with “NICU bucks.” Parents can earn the vouchers by attending classes that prepare them to take their babies home.
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