A new ap­proach to car­ing for tiny ba­bies

‘Cou­plet care’ lets moms stay in hos­pi­tal with their pre­ma­ture in­fants

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By An­drea K. McDaniels

Pre­ma­ture ba­bies with health prob­lems of­ten end up in neona­tal in­ten­sive care units, sep­a­rated from their moth­ers. This on­ce­s­tandard prac­tice can be emo­tion­ally tax­ing on moth­ers and, doc­tors say, it may not be the best care op­tion for ba­bies.

The in­fants of­ten stay in the hos­pi­tal long af­ter their moth­ers are dis­charged, which means par­ents have to travel back and forth to see their chil­dren. In­ten­sive care units for ba­bies are of­ten in tight quar­ters with lit­tle pri­vacy, mak­ing it hard for mom and child to bond.

As a re­sult, a hand­ful of hos­pi­tals are try­ing to change the cul­ture of neona­tal in­ten­sive care units and in turn re­duce costs and the time it takes ba­bies to re­cover.

Car­roll Hos­pi­tal Cen­ter in West­min­ster is cre­at­ing a “cou­plet care” pro­gram that will keep ba­bies in the same room as their moth­ers rather than in a spe­cial nurs­ery. Nurses and other staff will coach moth­ers on car­ing for their ba­bies and al­low moth­ers to stay at the hos­pi­tal un­til their ba­bies are healthy enough to go home.

Mercy Med­i­cal Cen­ter started a sim­i­lar pro­gram in 2012 when it opened a new women’s cen­ter.

Most hos­pi­tals al­ready keep moth­ers who had healthy de­liv­er­ies in the same room as their ba­bies, but few hos­pi­tals are do­ing this

AMY DAVIS/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Car­roll Hos­pi­tal will break ground in July for an ex­panded neona­tal care unit called Cou­plet Care, which is ex­pected to be com­pleted in 2019.

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