IWK Health Centre unveils first phase of new state-of-the-art Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

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This week the IWK Health Centre officially marked the completion of the first phase of its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) redevelopment project with the unveiling of the new NICU North. Considered one of the largest and most complex redevelopment projects ever undertaken at the IWK, NICU North strengthens the IWK’s ability to provide leading edge neonatal care to its tiniest patients and their families.

“In 2006, we started to hear as clinicians that there were benefits in having single-room care for our very sick neonates,” said Dr. Krista Jangaard, the IWK’s interim president and CEO. “It provides a better environment for the baby, having the right light, having the right noise levels, protecting from infection but more importantly having a place where parents can stay and sleep.”

NICU North consists of 16 private patient rooms, two twin baby rooms, and one triplet room that allow families to remain together for the duration of their stay on the unit. Research and success from similar units in Canada, Europe and the United States have shown the importance of newborn attachment in building loving reciprocal relationships with their parents or guardians.

“We want families to come live here and sleep here,” says Tanya Bishop, registered nurse and clinical lead of the NICU redevelopment. “The more involved parents are in the treatment of the newborn, the better the family does as a whole. Babies have more human milk, more skin-to-skin care and better growth.”

Each private room has a recliner, double sofa bed, private washroom with shower, and optional partition between the baby and family space. In addition, noise, temperature and sound can be controlled and personalized for each room.

This is the first phase of a $34 million critical care redevelopment project which is 100 per cent private donor funded through the IWK Foundation. Phase two of the NICU redevelopment project will commence in the coming weeks and is scheduled for completion in Spring 2019.