The Birthplace at Centennial Hills Hospital recently expanded its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) from 15 to 25 beds. The expansion features nine private baby suites, including separate suites for twins and triplets, to provide families with much-needed solitude during a stressful time, helping them feel welcome and secure as the NICU care team and parents care for medically fragile babies in comfortable surroundings.
The expansion was designed to address a need for increased space and privacy, explained Rebecca Kole, RNC-NIC, MSN, NICU Nurse Manager. “We understand this is a tense and demanding time, and the NICU becomes a family’s home away from home,” she said.
“Parents are vital members of their baby’s care team, and are supported through our Family Integrated Care support system. Along with our suites providing more space and storage for personal belongings, we also added a Family Lounge. This provides parents with some time away from the bedside to refresh, refuel and connect with other parents for support in a more relaxed setting,” explained Kole. “And, when parents are away from their babies, they can check on them any time with our password-protected NICView® live-streaming technology.”
The NICU features a 24/7 visitation policy. As part of the baby’s growth and development plan, “kangaroo care” is encouraged; this skin-to-skin contact between parents and babies yields medical benefits such as regulating the temperature, heart and breathing of infants, along with family bonding and ability for mothers to provide breast milk.
“For critically ill patients, breast milk is like medicine that only a mother can provide, and it has been shown in medical evidence that it decreases many problems associated with being born prematurely,” said Kole. The NICU provides dedicated Lactation Consultant services for families, and hospital metrics between 2019 and YTD 2021 shows that more than 84% of Centennial Hills NICU babies were discharged to home on breast milk.
Advanced Baby Expertise for Northwest, North Las Vegas Families
The Level III NICU is for babies as young as 23 weeks (gestational age) who require specialty care, along with infants with low birth weights and other medical needs, explained Clarissa Gervasio, MD, Medical Director of the NICU at Centennial Hills Hospital. “Over the past several years, our tiny patients have benefited from many advances in the field of neonatal medicine, including the development of new modes of providing ventilator support, the use of total body cooling for infants with perinatal asphyxia, and an increased focus on quality improvement activities to optimize outcomes for the babies in our units,” said Dr. Gervasio.
“We’ve always used a multidisciplinary, family-centered approach, utilizing the skills and strengths of various members of our healthcare team to address all aspects of care for critically ill babies with many complex medical issues,” said Dr. Gervasio. Along with neonatal physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and dedicated Lactation Consultants, the NICU support team includes respiratory therapists to assist with breathing issues; the expertise of Certified Neonatal Therapists (CNT) who specialize in the care of premature infants; and the support of social workers to assist with a variety of social, financial and emotional issues.
“As our community continues to quickly grow, we are prepared to care for all mothers and babies and we are very proud to offer this increased capacity for our community,” said Sajit Pullarkat, CEO of Centennials Hills Hospital. “We understand babies arrive on their own schedules and may need additional levels of medical expertise and intervention, and I’m proud we can provide this high-quality mother-baby care, close to our patients’ homes while offering the additional privacy for our families.”
The NICU expansion is part of a $95 million master plan project for Centennial Hills Hospital that also included the addition of labor and delivery suites and 36 new mother-baby suites that opened in November 2020. Women choosing to deliver at The Birthplace work with their healthcare provider to create an individualized birth plan. Options include a natural delivery model with water laboring tubs, anesthesia services or a planned Caesarean section. Two operating rooms are located within The Birthplace, providing immediate access for planned and emergency Caesarean sections.
The Birthplace has a laborist (obstetrician) on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to assist with any deliveries, and specially trained staff to provide specific care within the triage, antepartum labor and delivery, mother-baby and neonatal intensive care departments.