NICU Family Support Program
Each year in the United States, approximately 1 in 10 newborn babies are admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). When a baby requires specialized care in the NICU, families are often frightened, confused and overwhelmed. To help ease stress associated with the experience, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the March of Dimes have teamed up to implement the NICU Family Support Program. Our program is the only one of its kind in the state.
About the Program
A team at the Renee Schine NICU at Prentice Women’s Hospital works hand-in-hand with the March of Dimes to alleviate the stress of having a baby in the NICU. According to the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Specialist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, they “work closely with the parents of hospitalized infants and the rest of their family to both support and educate them during the difficult time.”
The program offers a variety of ongoing events including:
- Parent groups
- Educational presentations and discussions
- Family events
Families at the NICU also receive “parent care kits,” which contain information about:
- The NICU, including a guide and glossary of terms and equipment common in the NICU
- Parenting a hospitalized infant
- Preparing for discharge home
The program also provides a stocked book cart of children’s books for parents to read to their infants at the bedside to promote early bonding.
Helping You & Your Family—Here & at Home
The Family Support Program is a vital component of NICU care, and it doesn’t end when the infant leaves the hospital. The help and support available extends from hospitalization through the transition home. In addition to offering families help with coping in the hospital, it also connects them with other NICU parents. Our hope is that through support and a sense of community, parents will find strength, which ultimately allows them to best care for and bond with their baby.
Training Our Staff to Help Our Families
The program also provides professional development opportunities for NICU staff. These seminars and educational rounds are geared to educate staff on best-practices in family-centered care.
A critical component of the program, a committee comprised of both NICU graduate parents and staff, including nurses, neonatologists and other members of the medical team, launched in January 2010. This committee guides the programming of NICU Family Support, focused on enhancing family-centered care.
For more information about the program, please contact the NICU Family Support Specialists at 312-472-4347.