Pre-term, low birth weight babies face daunting challenges from the moment they are born. Problems include difficulty feeding, infections, respiratory distress, jaundice and impaired brain development. These complications can develop into learning disabilities, low average IQ scores, neuropsychological deficits, visual motor integration issues and more.
In 2015, Sisters of Charity Hospital provided Neonatal Intensive Care for 686 of our tiniest patients. This represents an increase of 30.8% from the average daily number of babies cared for just five years ago.
The demand for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) services in our community has risen steadily for several reasons. Women in our community are having their babies at an older age. Many others are using fertility treatments. And, more women struggle with health problems such as maternal obesity and gestational diabetes. The result is a greater number of premature babies, multiple births and children born at a low birth weight.
Research shows that the pre-term baby experiences an enormous amount of development that would normally have happened in the protected "in utero" environment. This environment is especially critical for brain development. Changes in noise, light, temperature and stimulation levels can have a negative impact on the infant’s development. Many times these effects aren’t fully apparent until the child is about to enter kindergarten.
Sisters NICU renovation will create a 40 bed unit with single family rooms. The increased space will afford families more access and involvement in their baby’s care. A 9 bed pod for infants about to graduate from the NICU will provide greater stimulation for the growing baby.
Together, we will provide these tiny feet with the best path to begin the journey of a lifetime.