Friday, July 6, 2007

NICU Parent Pathfinder - Helping Parents Navigate the NICU

The NICU admission of a newborn is an enormously stressful time for the family on many levels. This is a my description of the NICU from an article published several years ago:
The high-tech NICU environment is unfamiliar and intimidating for most parents. The instruments, incubators, intravenous equipment, respirators, procedures, monitors, hospital jargon, lights, alarms, smells, and sounds can be terrifying for those unfamiliar with the intensive care setting. There is the constant worry about the child’s well-being, intensified when the parents are unable to be at the hospital around the clock due to other life commitments.

The logistics of daily visits can be particularly complicated and an additional hardship if the infant is hospitalized in another town. The experience can be distressing, overwhelming, and exhausting for parents, other children, and family members, creating a major upheaval in once normal daily routines.
NICU parents must quickly learn about their NICU baby's condition, treatment plan, getting around in a strange environment and then how to manage all of the pressures of this life-changing event.

The Children's Hospital of Illinois is making this process a little easier, by creating the new position of a Parent Pathfinder for their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

NICU Parent Pathfinders
Megan Mutti, a former NICU Parent, is Children's Hospital's first Parent Pathfinder for their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

In this new position, Mutti's job is to help NICU parents in understanding their baby's condition, care plan, and most of all "get acclimated to what is a strange and unique environment." She spends most of her time in the hospital's NICU mentoring and helping NICU parents adjust.

Additionally, she provides support to the NICU Family Advisory Board, a group of parents whose children “graduated” from the unit and advice to hospital officials.

I know it would have been very nice to have a Parent Pathfinder to help us find our direction during our NICU adventure.

Dyer KA. Identifying, Understanding, and Working with Grieving Parents in the NICU, Part I: Identifying and Understanding Loss and the Grief Response. Neonatal Network. May/June 2005; 24: 35-46. Abstract at: Swiech P. New position will help parents at Children's Hospital. Pantagraph. July 5, 2007.
Children's Hospital of Illinois. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). 2007.

Photo Sources:
Melodi T.
Hospital Walkway. Royalty Free Use.
Pixel Pusher. Directions. Royalty Free Use.

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