April 5, 2018 4:12 pm
Updated: April 5, 2018 4:59 pm

New IWK neonatal unit allows parents with premature infants to stay in private rooms

WATCH: Parents of premature infants will now be able to spend their time in the NICU unit with their newborns by their side 24/7. Alexa MacLean has more.

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Parents of premature infants will now be able to stay in their own private rooms for the duration of their stay at one of the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.

“This is the first half of our brand new NICU single rooms. So we are going to have 19 private rooms,” Tanya Bishop said, the clinical lead of the NICU redevelopment project.

NICU North is the first unit to be redeveloped into a state-of-the-art, privacy-focused area for families with infants requiring neonatal intensive care.

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The design emulates the same NICU space that is used in Norway.

“The big thing is it makes it much more feasible for families to stay. It’s very difficult to stay in an environment where you don’t have a place to sleep, or if you do, it’s not going to be a comfortable place, or a place that you can control how much noise, lightning and interruption there’s going to be,” Dr. David Simpson said, the co-director of the unit and neonatologist.

Previously, both NICU units at the IWK were open-bay care sites, meaning there was nowhere for parents to comfortably stay overnight, and the general space was shared with all other families on the unit.

That’s changing with the $34-million project, which has been completed entirely with donated money.

“When we traveled to Scandinavia, they said, families should get to be families. We shouldn’t have a little single bed. We should get Mom and Dad, or Mom and Mom, whoever this is, to be able to sleep together. This is a new little person in their lives, we need to promote togetherness,” Bishop said.

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In 2017, nearly 830 babies were treated at the NICU.

The average stay is two weeks but it’s not unusual for some families to stay there for up to six months.

The second phase is expected to be completed in Spring 2019.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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