A team-based care model at St. Luke’s Nampa will allow new parents to stay with their babies in specially designed family suites.
“We know that babies do better when their parents are with them. They are able to eat better and sleep better,” said St. Luke’s Women’s Services Administrator Dixie Weber. “This allows parents to be the primary caregiver and work alongside the medical team. Infants who interact with their parents do better in the hospital and heal faster.”
The Nampa hospital will open in October 2017 with 14 labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum rooms -- seven of which are dedicated to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) patients and their parents.
The family-centered mother-baby suites will be unique in the Northwest, said Weber.
An experienced NICU nurse, she led the search for a labor and delivery model that would be ideally suited for Canyon County. The team started the process by talking to patients.
“We listened to the women in our community when we designed the Nampa Family Care Unit,” Weber said. “There are large soaking tubs in each room. Women can play music, have plenty of space to move throughout their labor and prepare for the birth in the way they want to. They are able to get room service, eat together as a family and be a family in that room.”
Weber and her colleagues gathered research from and analyzed best practices in infant neuro-brain development.
The new care model is particularly beneficial for ill or premature babies who need specialized neonatal care. The design encourages families to be part of a health care team supported by a NICU nurse who is available to help care for the baby. Feeding, bathing, diaper changing and bonding can be a shared experience.
“Those are care elements we want the families to do with the medical provider alongside them,” Weber said.
Nursing care is coordinated in a single point of contact. “The NICU nurses are cross-trained in postpartum care, so the nurse taking care of your baby takes care of you,” she said. “The goal is that the nurse knows what the family needs. You should not have to be introduced to a lot of people during your stay.”
“We expect improved outcomes for infants based on this model of care,” said St. Luke’s Nampa Chief Nursing Officer Misty Thomas. “The rooms are private and spacious, a parent can lay down with a baby on their chests, and bonding can occur.”
An adult bed in the room allows the parents to be “skin to skin” with their baby for multiple hours a day.
“Skin to skin between a parent and a baby can help regulate the baby’s heart rate and breathing slows down so the babies grow better because their bodies don’t take as much energy, preserving calories to help them grow,” Weber said.
The specially appointed suites are equipped with refrigerators and guest beds so family members can comfortably spend the night. A family care area includes a kitchenette, showering facilities, lounging areas and quiet places to rest.
The team designed the family care suites with an eye on the demographics of Canyon County, including large, multi-generational families. The goal is to provide quality care closer to home.
“I think Canyon County is a perfect place for this model,” Weber said. “This design helps the family feel prepared to take care of the baby.”
Amy Stahl works in the Communications and Marketing department at St. Luke's.