One in every 10 babies born in the U.S. is admitted to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) because of premature birth or another medical condition. For parents with a baby in a NICU, the experience can be frightening, confusing and overwhelming. That’s why North Kansas City Hospital recently joined the NICU Family Support® network through March of Dimes. Network members provide information and comfort to families coping with this experience. Guided by former NICU families, the program was built on a family-centered philosophy. It addresses the needs of parents, siblings, grandparents and extended family during an infant’s hospitalization, transition home and in the event of a newborn death. The program also includes professional development that provides NICU staff with educational opportunities to help them sensitively support families on a daily basis. A family website offers 24-hour access to information, resources and online communities.
North Kansas City Hospital’s NICU is the Northland’s only Level III facility, the highest level for babies who are premature or need intensive care. Hospital staff are trained to care for babies born as early as 32 weeks (full term is 40 weeks). Thanks to a partnership between the Hospital and Children’s Mercy Hospital, neonatologists and neonatal nurse practitioners are onsite and actively involved in leading the care for these special deliveries.