Parents, family will have more room when visiting tiny patients
As the new Parkland Hospital nears completion, one of the biggest changes will be for the hospital’s tiniest patients.
Parkland’s neonatal intensive care unit (NNICU), which was the first Level III NNICU in Dallas, will increase five times in size from 17,625 square feet in the current hospital to nearly 93,184 square feet in the new state-of-the-art facility. Instead of multiple babies sharing a confined area, each infant will be in a separate room with enough space that mom and dad can spend quality time with their baby apart from other parents and infants.
In fiscal year 2013, there were 971 discharges from Parkland’s NNICU with an average daily census of 54. With an average length of stay of about three weeks, parents spend countless hours talking to and holding their infants, usually during peak evening hours when parents home from work can visit the hospital.
“Since all the rooms in the new Parkland hospital are private, including the NNICU, there will be more space for family and visitors,” said Lou Saksen, Senior Vice President of New Parkland Construction. “The hospital is designed with patients in mind, creating a patient-centered healing environment with more windows and natural light, an evidenced-based healing component of contemporary hospital design.”
Studies have shown that natural light is a key ingredient in the healing process. In her Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not published in the U.S. in 1860, Florence Nightingale wrote, “It is the unqualified result of all my experiences with the sick, that second only to the need of fresh air is their need of light; that, after a close room, what hurts them most is a dark room. Who has not observed the purifying effect of light, and especially of direct sunlight, upon the air of a room?”
That concept is incorporated in 21st-century hospital design research that also validates the healing properties of natural daylight. Every NNICU room has a window that brings daylight indoors to soothe both infant and parents.
“The staff of Parkland’s Level III NNICU provides extraordinary, skilled care to our smallest, most fragile patients. Although our specialists and equipment are among the finest in the country, the current NNICU area is definitely outdated. The experience for families will be much more comfortable and welcoming in the new NNICU, where there will be privacy, quiet and in-room sleeping accommodations for the parents,” said Jennifer Hill, RN, Director of Parkland’s NNICU. “It will be a far more restful, healing environment. Private rooms will also lower the possibility of infection by limiting exposure of the newborns to other babies, staff and visitors.”
Hill added that parents and families of infants in the NNICU are under a lot of stress. “They know that their babies are receiving fantastic care at Parkland. When the new NNICU opens, they can play an even more active role in their baby’s care, because the physical environment will allow them to spend more time with their infants.”
The new hospital will also include a 2,601-square-foot pediatric pharmacy that will serve all babies born at Parkland. With a pharmacy dedicated to pediatrics, the tiniest patients will benefit from custom-made oral and intravenous medication doses, custom-made intravenous nutrition for neonates and the knowledge and skills of pediatric-trained pharmacy staff. Parkland Foundation was awarded $827,858 from the 2010 Crystal Charity Ball for the pediatric pharmacy in the NNICU.
“We are grateful to Crystal Charity for the funding of the pharmacy,” Hill said. “Their funding has enabled the pharmacy to go from a cramped 100 square feet in the current hospital to 2,600 square feet in the new hospital.”
Learn more about Parkland’s Women & Infants Specialty Health services.