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Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital opens “the next generation” of neonatal ICU

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Cutting the ribbon for the new Neonatal ICU were (l-r): Michael Caty, MD, chief, Pediatric Surgery, and surgeon-in-chief, YNHCH; Clifford Bogue, MD, chief medical officer, YNHCH; Cynthia Sparer, senior vice president, Operations, YNHH, and executive director, Children’s Hospital and Women’s Services; Matthew Bizzarro, MD, medical director, NICU; Mark Mercurio, MD, chief, Neonatal- Perinatal Medicine, YNHCH; Marna Borgstrom, CEO, Yale New Haven Health System; Mary Kate Florian, RN, patient service manager, NICU; Marianne Hatfield, RN, vice president, Patient Services, YNHCH and Women’s Services; Robert Alpern, MD, dean, Yale School of Medicine; and Aaron Hollander, YNHH trustee and project donor.


On Jan. 24, Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital opened one of the country’s most advanced neonatal intensive care units – a specially-designed, two-floor unit that will enhance family-centered care, provide support and improved outcomes and advance clinical research.

Cynthia Sparer, senior vice president, Operations, Yale New Haven Hospital, and executive director, Children’s Hospital and Women’s Services, greeted more than 200 people who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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Michael Caty, MD, discussed the features of the new procedure room, which is located on the unit so fragile babies don’t have to be transported to other areas of the hospital.

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NICU staff and physicians led tours of the new unit, including (l-r): Mary Katie Florian, RN, patient service manager; Alison Blois, RN, assistant patient service manager; and Elaine Holman, RN, NICU quality and business leader.

“Welcome to what is the culmination of a dream for many of the people gathered here,” she said. “We have developed the next generation of neonatal ICU.”

YNHCH is the first academic medical center to offer couplet rooms in the NICU, where mothers and their babies remain together during care. This strengthens the maternal-infant bond by fostering skin-to-skin contact, supporting breastfeeding and further inducing healing.

From concept to planning and throughout construction, YNHCH kept families’ needs and wishes at the forefront and designed a truly family-centered unit and care model. Single-patient rooms offer a therapeutic environment conducive to healing and developmental growth. The unit’s respite rooms, laundry facility and milk room further support parents and families.

“We are proud to open the most advanced NICU in the United States, bringing all of the essential family- and patient-centered resources, services and technology into a vibrant center that supports the efforts of our outstanding physicians, nurses and hospital staff,” Sparer said. “Our vision to create a bright, spacious, unprecedented intensive care unit serves as a national model for others.”

Another first for YNHCH’s NICU is a sophisticated procedure room where clinical staff can perform everything from complex procedures to inserting central lines to initiating ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) for infants needing prolonged cardiac and respiratory support. Having this room in the NICU means infants no longer need to be transported around the hospital.

A neonatal brain MRI, to be installed in the NICU next year, will be one of the first in the U.S. It features technology specifically designed for this unique patient population and will allow for scans of premature newborn brains, along with other potential uses. Neonatologists and pediatric neurologists will be better equipped to study newborns’ neurological development and apply these learnings to provide better care for these high-risk patients.

The NICU also features newly developed information technology systems that instantaneously transmit data and alarms from isolette monitors and bedside equipment to staff smartphones. The innovative integration of physiologic monitoring, computerized decision support, alarm management, mobile communications and the electronic medical record will provide the NICU clinical team with immediate access to critical information.

Other on-site features include a 24/7 pharmacy to facilitate communication and prepare medications rapidly, and a simulation lab and education center for ongoing, hands-on learning for staff.

“In 1960, what was then called New Haven Hospital opened the first neonatal intensive care unit in the United States. With the opening of this highly advanced NICU, Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital is showing once again why it is at the forefront of neonatal care,” said Clifford Bogue, MD, chief medical officer, YNHCH. “Hearing firsthand from neonatology experts and visiting world-class NICUs across the country, we gathered extensive data on various care models, best practices and designs, and applied this knowledge in designing our own NICU. The result will provide families from across the United States the finest care for their children.”

More photos of the NICU and the ribbon-cutting event: