Hospital Sisters Health System
St. John’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Springfield, Illinois

With the nationwide trend of increasing premature births, HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital needed to make drastic changes to their existing 45-bed, 15,000-sq.ft. Level III NICU. At the outset, project leaders knew they wanted to build upon the latest evidence-based design learnings from other best-in-class facilities. The design team and clinicians visited multiple benchmark facilities where they collaborated with staff and leadership, better understanding lessons learned and best practices.

Kahler Slater, the clinical design team, and women and children’s healthcare experts, Smith Hager Bajo, targeted multiple patient outcomes that could be improved with the new environment, including average length of stay and rate of readmission. The team will be gathering post-occupancy data to determine the success of the desired outcomes.

Phase I of the expanded NICU is more than double the original size at 36,500-sq.ft. with a total of 56 beds. Innovative features of the expanded program include:

  • Single family rooms where parents can stay overnight with their infant.
  • Dedicated rooms for NICU twins and their families to stay together.
  • A tiny baby sub-unit dedicated to the highly specialized needs of the smallest patients.
  • A milk lab where milk technicians can fortify mothers’ breastmilk with additional nutrients.
  • A dedicated family respite lounge and overnight sleep suites will be available when Phase II opens later this year.

St. John’s will have the unique offering of couplet care. This care strategy was first introduced in Sweden at the Karolinska Institute in 2007 and there are only ten states in the nation offering this innovative program. It allows mom and their NICU baby to stay in the same room, establishing the essential parent-child bond from the outset. Positive outcomes as a result of couplet care have proven to be decreases in length-of-stay and infant morbidity. Couplet care also supports earlier bonding of NICU infant and mother due to earlier skin-to-skin contact and increased breastfeeding success.