Munson Medical Center is preparing for the hospital’s largest expansion project to date—an $80 million project that will include the construction of a $36 million, 110-foot new Family Birth and Children’s Center. The expansion means Munson can house its maternity services, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and pediatric services in one central hub.

Munson’s NICU itself will expand from 2,700 square feet to 15,500 square feet, changing the design from an open-floor unit to private and semi-private rooms. We spoke with Annie Hautala, RNC about how the space paves the way for a new care delivery model in the NICU:

Tell me the impact the new space will have on how you care for patients?

What we do now is called family-centered care. As soon as families are ready we show them what their baby’s care is like. And as they get close to going home, they do more and more. Sometimes we have 22 to 24 babies in this 2,700-square-foot area, and there is not space for families to be really close to their baby as much as they would like to be.

With the new model of care, called family integrated care (FIC), we take what we are doing now to the next level. Instead of explaining care, we will be teaching family members to take care of the baby themselves as soon as they are able. When they go home they have been there with the baby around the clock and are confident advocates for their baby.

How does this model of care alleviate stress on the parents and baby?

In the NICU, most of our patients don’t expect to be there. It can be scary or even traumatic. With a private and semi-private room environment, it is more welcoming, more homelike, with a view to outside and spaces just to be families. There will be room to lie down and rest, so parents can meet their own needs too.

And there will be better care takeaways. Now we might get a call after a family goes home. They’ll say: “We have fed the baby, she’s changed, it’s the middle of the night—why is she wide awake?” We can reassure them, oh, after she eats, she just likes to be awake and play. Even this normal progression of behavior can cause concern after such an unnatural growth and development experience. It can be very hard for families to transition from our highly monitored environment to life outside of the hospital. We hope to ease this transition in the new unit.

What is your role in implementing the new care model?

As the family integrated care lead, I am still on the floor. I need to see firsthand what unique needs and opportunities there are to make the model what it needs to be, living with one foot in each world. We are building a parent advisory council now, because parent involvement is vital to developing and supporting family integrated care. We have so many amazing families and we couldn’t make this better without them. My role is also to coordinate implementation of FIC between NICU, Maternity, and Pediatrics. We are hoping to provide a seamless transition from one service to the next and allow families to be the primary caregivers in each of these areas.

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Northern Michigan Medical & Health