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Developmentally Supportive Care
Physicians and nursing staff in West Penn Hospital’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) employ supportive care strategies. These strategies support the baby’s neurologic maturation in a manner that is developmentally appropriate for the baby’s age, medical condition and level of alertness. The developmentally supportive approach to care is reinforced by the physicians and Diane Shaffer, M.Ed., pediatric developmental specialist.
Infants who weigh only 1 to 2 pounds, are on ventilators or are critically ill are protected from excessive stimulation. Blankets are draped over their isolettes to buffer excessive light and sound, and the level of sound in the nursery is monitored as well. Efforts are made to protect the baby’s sleep through Quiet Time and clustering of care. Babies are positioned in a manner that provides boundaries and nesting to mimic the intrauterine environment as closely as possible bedding.
These efforts promote positional containment, security and behavioral organization. Babies may spend several weeks to a few months in the nursery so it is very important that the staff support the baby’s maturation, medical healing and growth in the most developmentally supportive manner.
We support and encourage parent involvement in the baby’s care right from the very beginning. As the babies grow and mature, parents are able to become much more active in all aspects of their baby’s care. Parents are encouraged to hold the baby, participate in their care and feeding. We encourage you to read to your baby, bring a family picture for the baby’s bed toys and spend as much time as possible at the baby’s bedside.
Click here to download an informational booklet about Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.
As the baby gets well, parental involvement in his care increases. The nursing staff will educate the parents on their child's special needs and makes sure that they are prepared to take over the care responsibilities once the baby is home. Parents are encouraged to feed, bathe, and dress their children, and a special room is available in which the parents and baby can stay together for a night or two before discharge to become most comfortable with the baby’s care while the nurses are close by for assistance if needed.
Baby’s cared for in the Intensive Care Nursery are able to participate in the Developmental Follow-up Program. This program is an extension of the care received in the nursery. It allows us to monitor the baby’s developmental progress because baby’s born early, sick, or small. This program also provides practical suggestions about what families can do at home to encourage continued developmental progress. If any developmental difficulties are identified, referrals for appropriate community services are completed.
This program is collaboration between, the developmental specialist, Ms. Shaffer, the neonatologists and the families. “Together we focus on the baby’s developmental changes provide reassurance and education so parents can continue to celebrate their baby’s developmental progress.”
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An online community for NICU families. Participate in online discussions, start a blog or just make friends. (Sponsored by the March of Dimes)