Modern NICUs have dramatically improved the outlook for tiny premature infants, but until relatively recently their parents and families have been largely excluded from their care. Long-term studies on the psychological, emotional, social and other functional outcomes of these survivors are now showing the benefits of early, extensive family involvement. Single family rooms and family-centered care are now common in the NICU, but philosophical and logistical barriers continue to limit parent participation. This knowledge-based educational activity will review the evidence supporting family-integrated care, present examples of its implementation, and discuss solutions to some of these barriers.
Robert Cicco, MD, Associate Director of the NICU, Western Pennsylvania Hospital, Pittsburgh, has been a long-time advocate for inclusion of families in the care of their premature babies. He has served for years on the Program Development Committee of the Gravens Conference – The Physical and Developmental Environment of the High Risk Infant. Dr. Cicco highlights his interests in how enhanced parent-infant interaction in the NICU has the potential for improved post-discharge parenting and long-term outcomes, and in the role parents can play to ameliorate possible adverse effects of the NICU environment.
Nicole Pendenza, BSN, RNC-NIC, Catholic Medical Center, Manchester, NH, is the founder and director of the first American nursery to incorporate “couplet care” into the setting of neonatal intensive care. She has studied the European models of couplet care and will discuss the cultural and logistical barriers to its implementation in the U.S.