Newborn Intensive Care Unit Video and Transcript

Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

The Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Terrie Inder, MD, MBChB
Chair, Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine

Hi, my name is Doctor Terrie Inder, and I'm the Chair of the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine here at the Brigham and Women's Hospital. And it's my pleasure to welcome you to this video, and to other information you will find available on the website regarding our neonatal intensive care unit here at the Brigham and Women's Hospital.

The Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is focused on family-centered care. Many people utilize that term but what it means to us is that we are taking care of the entire family – the mother, the father, the siblings, and of course the infant that we have the privilege of caring for. 

Our Newborn Medicine Team

Linda Van Marter, MD, MPH
Vice-Chair, Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine

Our goal is for every baby to receive the best possible newborn care, and every family to be equally well cared for; to be fully informed, engaged and integrated in their baby's care right from the very beginning. 

Level three units like ours care for babies who require intensive monitoring and ICU treatments, such as support of heart and lung function; surfactant or mechanical ventilation for lung immaturity; brain protective treatment, such as therapeutic hypothermia, or brain cooling; IV nutrition through special catheters, or other treatments such as those commonly seen in ICUs caring for older children or adults.

We have a wonderful team of extraordinary attending neonatologists and hospitalists, who are based at Brigham and Women's, as well as a larger group of neonatology colleagues at our partner hospitals. Many of our Brigham and Women's NICU physicians and colleagues, in associated disciplines, are recognized nationally and internationally for their clinical expertise, innovation, and their research, and educational contributions.

One of the greatest strengths of our Brigham and Women's team is our depth of nursing expertise. Our babies and families benefit from a staff of more than 160 outstanding neonatal nursing experts. We also are fortunate to work alongside colleagues in other disciplines, who are dedicated to the NICU, including approximately 20 NICU respiratory therapists, a physician's assistant, two nurse practitioners, neonatal pharmacists, NICU dietitians, and social workers, as well as several lactation consultants and a developmental team, consisting of physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech and language expert, and developmental psychologist. 

Even with all we have to offer, we truly understand that it's each baby's parents who really are at the heart of their child's NICU team. We strive every day to transform newborn intensive care by offering, of course, the most advanced technologies to our babies, but as well by delivering compassionate family-centered care.

Throughout this video, you'll be hearing from other members of our NICU care team. We hope you find this information valuable and that it assists you as you and your baby travel through the NICU journey.

Your Baby’s Care in the NICU

Michael Prendergast, MD
Medical Director, Newborn Intensive Care Unit

Some babies who come to the NICU will spend less than 24 hours there, whereas other babies and their families will spend up to six months in the NICU until they are able to feed well enough to thrive and have no ongoing medical issues.

In that initial period, the focus is largely on intensive care with an emphasis on breathing support and cardiac support. As time goes by and as your baby becomes more stable, the focus shifts to a greater emphasis on the best developmental care for your baby with a focus on nutrition and developmental therapies, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, etcetera.

On a daily basis, the NICU care team will update families as to their baby's progress. They will do that at the bedside if you're there in person. You're also welcome to attend daily rounds with the team. Otherwise they will reach out to you by phone to give you an update.

Respiratory Therapy

Terri Gorman, MD
Medical Director, Newborn Intensive Care Unit

One of the most common respiratory issues that we find in the neonatal intensive care is an issue related to the underdevelopment of the premature lung. A large majority of the babies that will end up in the neonatal intensive care unit are there because they're born early, typically in the 22 to 32 week out of 40 week gestation age range. Those infants are at high risk for needing extra breathing support.

For premature infants who have underdeveloped lungs, most babies will be able to go home breathing spontaneously without the need for any supplemental interventions, and no extra oxygen, or extra help with their breathing.

Growth and Development Unit

Terrie Inder, MD, MBChB
Chair, Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine

One of the important cornerstones of our treatment of mothers and infants here at the Brigham and Women's Hospital is our focus on family integrated developmental care. One special aspect of that is a dedicated space, known as the Growth and Development Unit, where we environmentally enrich and support an infant's development. We know that this is a critical period of brain development, and a critical period of growth, of both the infant and of their nervous system and this area has been specially designed and supported by physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, music therapy, and physicians who have special interest in the developmental needs of our babies.

Your Baby’s Nursing Team

Marianne Cummings, RN, MS
Nurse Director, Newborn Intensive Care Unit

In the Newborn ICU, we practice primary nursing, and that is an opportunity for a family to work closely together with a nurse from the admission of the baby into the NICU until home. We find that our families and primary nurses form a very close bond during that experience.

Your nursing staff will help you feel comfortable in caring for your baby's daily care activities, whether that be changing your baby's diaper or learning how to hold your baby or learning how to do you kangaroo care, which is skin-to-skin with your baby. Your primary nurse can also help you spend time with your baby by helping you read to your baby.

Role of Parents in the NICU

Stephanie Shine, RN
Newborn Intensive Care Unit

After being a nurse in the NICU at Brigham and Women's for almost eight years, I had my own experience of having a baby in the NICU. My son Sam was born at 26 weeks, weighing just one pound two ounces, and spent 101 days in our NICU. During that time, I actually had to go back to work so that I could be with him when he came home.  It really taught me what the experience of being a parent in the NICU is and it really helped me understand how essential having my voice as a parent, and being listened to, is. So as a nurse, I really try to include the parents as much as possible.

Supportive Care for Families

Gayle Schumacher
Family Support Specialist, Newborn Intensive Care Unit

Being a former parent in the NICU at the Brigham, I bring a unique perspective with me in our role in Parent Support Services and Family Support Services. Our only job is to support parents as they face the challenges that can happen when they have a sick baby in the NICU, an early baby. We provide educational programs. We provide dinners and social programs, we provide arts and crafts opportunities, we provide a ton of bedside support. Our role is to guide you and walk with you through the experience of having a baby in the NICU.

For More about Our NICU

Terrie Inder, MD, MBChB
Chair, Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine

Thank you for your attention during this video. We hope that it has informed you about the activities and the type of care that is provided at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Brigham and Women's Hospital. If you, as a family member, have any questions regarding the care of your infant, please don't hesitate to approach any member of the care team. If you, as a member of the public, have any questions or inquiries you would like to make about our unique facility, then please don't hesitate to contact us here at the Brigham and Women's Hospital Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine.

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