When a newborn requires specialized medical support, that support is available right here on the lakeshore at Holland Hospital Boven Birth Center’s eight-bed, Level II Special Care Nursery.
“I feel blessed to work in the Special Care Nursery,” says Laura Canan, RN, a nurse at the Boven Birth Center. “The care we are able to provide here at Holland Hospital is instrumental in keeping moms and babies together close to home.”
The Nursery, which opened in 2007, is staffed by pediatric hospitalists, a neonatal nurse practitioner and specially trained registered nurses, with additional support provided by a team of lactation consultants, parent advocates and care managers. This team provides round-the-clock care for pre-term and term babies who need extra monitoring and developmental support before going home.
Special Care Nursery
One of the main goals of the Nursery staff is to create a developmentally appropriate environment to support babies as they continue to grow and develop.
”Overstimulation can be detrimental to the development and healing of premature and sick infants,” says Canan. “We need to remember – the baby comes from a dark, quiet and warm environment.”
The staff in the Special Care Nursery attempt to recreate this low-stimulus environment through dim lighting and keeping noise levels down. They also avoid overstimulation by “clustering” care, meaning vital signs, head-to-toe assessments, feedings and diaper changes are done at the same time at regularly spaced intervals to allow the baby periods for rest.
In order to be discharged, the baby’s vital signs and physical assessment must be stable, they must be feeding without difficulty either by breast or bottle and they must be gaining or maintaining their weight. “We are often asked how long it will be before they are able to take their baby home,” says Canan. “It is a difficult question to answer because each baby is different, but we assure parents their goal to be home is also our goal for their family.”
Making parents part of the care team
The Special Care Nursery has nurse-to-patient ratios that allow the staff the time it takes to provide the extra care the babies need, as well as to offer additional support to the family as they navigate what is likely an unexpected experience.
“It is very important to us that parents feel like they are a part of this journey and not like outsiders looking in,” says Canan. “We are very intentional about including parents in decision making and providing them opportunities to be hands-on in the care of their baby.”
For all babies born in Boven Birth Center as well as babies admitted to the Special Care Nursery, staff encourages skin-to-skin or “kangaroo” care, which involves placing the baby either naked or partially dressed against the parent’s bare skin. This helps the baby conserve energy and promotes growth and healing. “Kangaroo care is a very special way to involve parents as part of the care team,” says Canan.
By providing individualized care to babies with special needs and making parents a critical part of the care team, the Special Care Nursery helps get babies and their families ready for a safe and smooth transition to home.