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Mount Sinai Hospital revolutionizes care for our tiniest patients

New family integrated care initiative empowers parents to care for their premature baby

The early birth of a baby is a stressful and overwhelming time for new parents as they are thrust into the very clinical world of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where traditionally nurses have been the primary caregiver for their infant. The new family integrated care initiative at Mount Sinai Hospital is the first in North America to empower parents to provide care for their baby in the NICU helping them to thrive while building their own confidence as new moms and dads.

Parents who join the family integrated care initiative:

  • Commit to spending a minimum of eight hours at the Hospital each day.
  • Receive coaching from the inter-professional multidisciplinary team to build their confidence on provide basic care for their baby such as feeding, bathing, changing diapers and how to hold their baby for as much skin-to-skin contact as possible.
  • Take the lead in care planning, chart their baby’s progress and present at rounds each morning to physicians and other clinical staff.
  • Have the emotional support of specially trained Parent Buddies who have had babies of their own in the NICU. They understand the obstacles parents face and are able share their unique experiences. 


“At Mount Sinai our mission is to discover and deliver the best patient care. The family integrated care initiative is modelled on a very successful program at the West-Tallinn Children’s Hospital in Estonia. What we learned is that when parents are empowered to provide primary care for their babies they grow and gain weight faster, the chance of infections is decreased, their length of stay is shorter and families develop a stronger bond.”
Dr. Shoo Lee, Pediatrician-in-Chief at Mount Sinai Hospital

“We were so happy when Tess was born but there was nothing that could have prepared us for being thrust into this new world where we felt more like visitors than new parents. The nurses and other parents have been amazing in teaching us to care for our daughter, listening to our concerns and sharing their experiences. It has let us see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Andy Fenton and Jack Hourigan, parents of Tess who was born prematurely on February 13 at 27 weeks

“The Family integrative care initiative enhances the practice of true patient-family centred care, where parents form a collaborative partnership with the health care team of their baby.  Most importantly, it is the recognition that there is a profound therapeutic-healing effect that comes from the parent-infant interaction. By increasing parenting activities, we hope to enhance parent-infant attachment and bonding and promote parental competency. As a practitioner, there is nothing more rewarding than facilitating this process by coaching and teaching parents to understand and support the care, growth and development of their premature infant.”
Mary Galarza, RN, HBS, MN,  Research Nurse for the family integrated care initiative
“We’re all told that having a baby is the most natural thing in the world. I can tell you from my personal experience that when your baby is born prematurely and you are in the NICU it feels anything but natural. It’s a true gift to be part of something from the ground up that gives power to families to care for their babies and form that most important bond.”
Kristen Christie, Mount Sinai Hospital NICU Parent Buddy