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 New parents, Gretchen and Ben, are grateful for the care their newborn daughter received while spending her first week of life in CSM’s NICU.

New parents Gretchen and Ben are grateful for the care their newborn daughter received while spending her first week of life in CSM’s NICU. 

"We never thought we would end up in the NICU."

This was one of the many thoughts running through the minds of new parents, Gretchen and Ben, upon the birth of their baby girl, Campbell, last September. As the baby was two weeks past her due date, they thought the delivery would be smooth sailing. But after Campbell started aspirating meconium and experiencing tachycardia, or a rapid heart rate, the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) team was brought in to provide her the specialized care she needed.

In cases like this – or when babies are born too soon, weighing just a few pounds – Columbia St. Mary's littlest patients spend the first days, or even months, of life fighting for survival. They depend on the caring human touch of the NICU team, and CSM's state-of-the-art technology to learn to breathe, eat and regulate their heartbeat and temperature on their own.

The new NICU will provide an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind experience
This fall, Columbia St. Mary's is expanding and transforming its NICU. The 6th floor of the Women’s Hospital will become a 25-bed, all-private-room NICU – the only one like it in southeastern Wisconsin. This $4 million project – funded in part by gifts to CSM Foundation and proceeds from the upcoming Gala – is slated to open on November 11, 2011.

 

CSM Foundation's Annual Gala will benefit the NICU Renovation.

CSM Foundation’s Annual Gala will benefit the NICU Renovation. Click here to learn more.

“The unit will more than double in size to 11,000 square feet. And, most significantly, this new layout with private rooms aims to reduce the risk of infection, reduce stress through noise and light control and provide more privacy for patients and their families,” says Dr. John Wolf, neonatologist and director of the CSM Hospital Milwaukee NICU. “Research shows that premature babies do better in a quiet environment.  We hope that, with the ability to control temperature, lighting and noise level specifically for each baby's needs, medical outcomes will improve and length of stay will be reduced.”

Almost all patient rooms will be 233 square feet large enough to accommodate separate patient, staff and family areas. The room will comfortably fit an isolette, monitoring and medical equipment, a work area for physicians and staff and a dedicated family area large enough to accommodate an overnight stay.  To provide for families with multiples, two larger rooms will offer enough space for an additional isolette and equipment.

The new NICU will include two wings with private patient rooms, nurses’ stations, medicine preparation rooms, physician work rooms, storage rooms, medical/administrative offices, staff break and locker rooms, a classroom and visitor’s lounge.

Parents need special support
Having a baby in the NICU is a highly stressful and uncertain time for parents.

After her initial recovery, Gretchen's hospital bed was wheeled in so that she could see her newborn. Though her baby was hooked up to several breathing and monitoring machines, Campbell looked comfortable and absolutely beautiful. The baby couldn't be fed for 48 hours so looking at her was all that Gretchen and Ben could do. 

"This was a very difficult way to start our new adventure as parents," Gretchen shares. "The nurses in the NICU were incredible – there to answer your every question and to reassure you at every moment. There was a clear sense that they were looking out for me too." 

Today Gretchen and Ben are “giving back” by volunteering on the NICU Advisory Committee for the renovation project and fundraising campaign.

Today Gretchen and Ben are “giving back” by volunteering on the NICU Advisory Committee for the renovation project and fundraising campaign.

The larger, private rooms are designed to make parents feel more at home and a part of the care team. To further create a home-like environment, the renovation will include a comfortable visiting area with a kitchenette, educational materials and a children’s play area. This visitor's lounge will be twice as large as the existing one.

Additionally, a new classroom is available for family support group space, education, and will provide a designated learning space for families as they prepare to take their child home.

“The improved family-friendly setting will allow parents to be an integral part of the care team, giving them a precious opportunity to help their child through this difficult journey,” said Dr. Wolf.

"Over the seven days of our stay, we became familiar with most of the staff and really made ourselves at home in the unit," Gretchen states. Now a year later, Gretchen and Ben have been involved in the planning and fundraising for the new NICU as they want to "give back" to the place that gave Campbell the best care available.

Please help us make these babies' first home even better! Click here to make a gift now to the CSM Foundation’s NICU Renovation Campaign or click here to learn more about the Gala to benefit the NICU.

 


Highlights of the All-Private NICU Patient Rooms

Infant Medical Care 

  • Patient spaces designed to care for infants needing all levels of care – from admission to discharge. Once an infant is assigned, that infant will stay in the same room until discharge.
  • Ability to perform most medical procedures at the infant’s bedside, rather than requiring transport to a different room.
  • In-room hand washing sinks to help decrease the spread of infection.
  • Noise and light control based on the infant’s need.
  • Flexible space surrounding the isolette to accommodate changing medical equipment needs based on the infant’s condition. 
  • Wall-mounted laptops for patient charting in each room, allowing staff easy access to update medical information.

 Family Care

  • Private family space to help parents learn to care for their baby before going home.
  • A comfortable rocking chair for parents to bond with their child and a convertible sleeper couch that allows parents to stay overnight.
  • Privacy curtains for moms to breast feed or pump and for both parents to practice “kangaroo care,” where the infant is held skin-to-skin with an adult to promote bonding.
  • In-room refrigerators for storage of medications and mom’s breast milk, and a specialized freezer for breast milk storage.
  • Desktop space for families to communicate with family and friends, take care of insurance issues and perform everyday functions such as paying bills.
  • Televisions with headphones for quiet viewing.
 

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