Regional Neonatal Intensive Care
Sometimes newborn babies are born prematurely, or with medical problems, and require special care to adjust to their new lives outside their mother's womb. Covenant HealthCare's Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit provides that care to newborns at delivery and beyond. The RNICU is designed for and staffed with a team of specialists devoted to the care of these infants and their families. Many of them are born early or suffer from respiratory problems, congenital defects or severe infections.
The 55-bed RNICU is a busy place and could seem overwhelming. It is equipped with the most advanced technology to care for our tiniest patients. Board-certified neonatologists and neonatal nurse practitioners provide 24-hour, in-house coverage. Nurses, respiratory therapists and an excellent support team of occupational and physical therapists, radiologists, dieticians, lactation consultants, social workers, case workers and pastoral care are all vital members of the RNICU team. The RNICU, which serves 14 mid-Michigan counties, also provides Newborn Transport Services to bring critically ill newborns from other area hospitals for treatment and care.
The RNICU, which opened in 1974, is a life saving service for distressed infants and has served more than 10,000 ill newborns.
The RNICU staff embraces a family-centered approach to patient care. Parents are encouraged to be involved in the care of their child as much as possible.
Developmental Assessment Program
The Developmental Assessment Clinic (DAC) is an early identification/intervention system coordinated by the staff from the RNICU. The major goal is to screen and assess high-risk infants. Staff members work as a team to identify those infants who are at risk for developing developmental disabilities.
Preterm and/or low birth weight infants, along with any infants who experienced complications prior to, during or following birth may be at a higher risk for developmental disabilities. If monitored, developmentally disabled children can be identified and treated early, minimizing the effects.
Children are usually seen anywhere from one month to six months following discharge from the RNICU. Following the initial visit, subsequent visits are arranged on an individual basis. Each child is seen by a registered nurse, an occupational therapist, a dietitian, social worker, and a neonatologist. If development is not proceeding as expected, referrals are made for physical, occupational, speech therapy, and Early On through the infant's community.
"Kangaroo Care," or skin-to-skin contact, is when a baby is placed on a mother or father's chest then covered with a blanket. Kangaroo care is beneficial for both parents and infants. It promotes attachment and bonding for parents, as well as increases milk production for the mother and ultimately increases breastfeeding success.
Covenant Cuddlers is a volunteer program consisting of men and women who volunteer their time in the RNICU. A cuddler rocks and cuddles newborns, assists in feedings, reads stories and sing lullabies to babies staying in the RNICU. All "Cuddlers" are specially trained through Covenant HealthCare's Volunteer Program.