Bring moms and babies closer at the new OSF NICU!
We are fortunate to have access to excellent pediatric healthcare in Central Illinois. And better yet, many doctors, professionals, former patients, and community members have had the vision and passion to raise awareness of the need for a new facility in Peoria. Because of that vision, the Children’s Hospital of Illinois is growing and expanding to offer more services than ever before. It is within this vision that we hope to be able to partner with hospital administrators to allow all babies, especially the tiniest and most fragile, the best success rate for excellent recovery and health. According to John Bowlby, author of the Attachment Theory, “…the most significant variable predicting differences in maternal bonding was the length of time a mother had been separated from her baby during the hours and days after his birth.” In the current hospital, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and postpartum units are located within about one minute of travel time. In the plans for the new facility, the NICU will be moved to the new hospital, while labor/delivery/postpartum units will remain in the old hospital. The travel time between these units will increase from one minute to at least five minutes. This extra travel time will require an increase in staff, as current nurse staffing will not allow for nurses to be away from their other charges long enough to transport moms back and forth to the NICU. Multiply this by several moms needing to travel to the NICU several times per day, and you can see the issues that arise. To the best of our knowledge, there is a general plan for labor and delivery, antepartum, or postpartum units to be moved into the new facility, but no set timetable for this to happen. It could be done in as little time as a few years or put on hold nearly indefinitely. For the best possible care, our children need access to the doctors and facilities immediately after birth. Currently, doctors can run down a flight of stairs and be to a newborn 24-week old baby within one minute. This is one of the things that sets OSF St. Francis Medicine Center apart from other hospitals and we would like this quality of care to continue. In the new setup, this travel time between the Children’s Hospital Wing and the Labor/Delivery unit could mean the difference between life and death. Ask any parent of a NICU baby the difference between one minute and five minutes, and you will certainly feel the weight of worry and concern that they have experienced. Aside from professional medical care, NICU babies need their moms nearby in order to breastfeed. As reported on CBS, UCSD Doctors say that breast milk can mean the difference between life and death for premature babies. The increase in transport time between the postpartum unit and the new NICU will make breastfeeding these newborns more difficult. In order to establish an adequate milk supply, newborns must be allowed to nurse on demand. According to Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC, no restriction should be made on the length or frequency of breastfeedings. Facilitating this type of relationship with a baby in the NICU can be difficult enough without the added stress of transporting a mother across the hospital. For newborns who are unable to breastfeed during part or all of their NICU stay, receiving breastmilk is still of the utmost importance. The potential for an increase in the difficulty of transporting mothers to their babies to breastfeed increase the potential need for mothers to express breastmilk and for that milk to be transported to the NICU. This in turn increases the need for pumps, pumping supplies, storage facilities for expressed milk and couriers to transport milk and, most importantly, increases the potential for unsuccessful establishment of milk supply and therefore unsuccessful breastfeeding relationships on the whole. Given this information and these potential problems we are seeking to open a dialogue with Children’s Hospital of Illinois to address questions about how the move will affect the attachment of baby to mother as well as their breastfeeding relationship. Of the most importance to us currently are: -How will new mothers be transported to the NICU to see their babies, provide kangaroo care and breastfeed Will family members be allowed to move mothers or will they be required to wait for a nurse or hospital volunteer to transport them -Will the only access to the new NICU be through the main lobby or will there be another less crowded and more private route Will both mothers and sick infants be traveling this route -Will there still be a pumping room near the NICU Will there be an increase in pumps and pumping supplies on the postpartum floor for mothers who do not have easy access to the pump room near the NICU -How will labor and delivery be preparing for potential emergency situations If doctors and nurses must now run across the hospital instead of just down a flight of stairs will there be a neonatal nurse practitioner or other specialist on the floor around the clock to provide immediate care in an emergency situation while waiting for the NICU staff to arrive -How will the hospital be facilitating crucial bonding time between mothers who need occasional care on the postpartum floor and NICU newborns who would benefit from kangaroo care It is a priority to the concerned parents and professionals that a timeline for the move of labor and delivery, postpartum and antepartum be established to facilitate this move as soon as possible. We hope that this letter will facilitate communication between us and the Children’s Hospital of Illinois so that the citizens of the Greater Peoria area may have access to the cutting edge NICU facility that has been so carefully planned without sacrificing the new relationships forming between mother and infant immediately after birth.