HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital Opens New Family-Centered NICU

Kahler Slater joins Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) in celebrating the opening of its expanded, family-centered Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital in Springfield, Ill.

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.

Led by Dr. Beau Batton, Chief Neonatologist at HSHS St. John’s, the clinical design team along with Kahler Slater 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, among others. 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.

With the new units up and running, 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.

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