As the only Level III NICU in the region, the Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) St. John’s Children’s Hospital draws patients from 39 counties in central Illinois, some of whom must make decisions about caring for other children and attending jobs at home and spending time with their newborn some distance away. 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.
The basis for the project is rooted in evidence-based design (EBD) principles: the sooner, and more holistically, the family is enveloped into the babies’ recovery, the better the outcomes will be. Prior to designing the facility, an EBD workshop targeted specific indicators to be measured in both the old and new environments to support this premise—specifically, hours family spent with baby prior to discharge, average length of stay, and rate of readmission.
The project, which opened in March 2021, offers couplet care, which brings mom and NICU baby into the same room while mom remains an inpatient in postpartum recovery. The premise of the couplet concept is that the parent-child bond is accelerated by facilitating immediate skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding initiation, which ultimately results in better outcomes for baby.
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