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Toronto Star: Mount Sinai reveals state-of-the-art neonatal ICU

February 17, 2015

Dr. Lee in the Toronto Star

From the Toronto Star

By: Manisha Krishnan Staff Reporter, Published on Sun Feb 15 2015

When Carolyn Reilly went into labour on Christmas Eve, it was déjà vu in the worst way.
Just 24 weeks pregnant, Carolyn and her husband Don rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital, where she underwent an emergency caesarean section. All the while, their son, who was stillborn upon his premature delivery in March, was on their minds.

“It was quite traumatic,” said Carolyn from the hospital’s brand new neonatal intensive care unit, slated to open in the coming weeks. “We had just experienced this loss in March, which was a very similar experience.”

The couple’s daughter, Jocelyn, weighed 1 pound 12 ounces at birth.

“We call Jocelyn our miracle baby because she’s alive and doing well,” said Carolyn.

The Reillys have been at Mount Sinai’s current NICU, one of the largest in the country, for 51 days and they still have a couple months to go. On Feb. 24, they’ll make the switch over to the new facility.

Nearly 7,000 babies are born at Mount Sinai annually, according to the hospital; of those, 1,600 are considered to be high-risk pregnancies.

The new NICU is comprised of 58 patient suites, each with windows, beds, a fridge and showers. A big change from the current open-concept system, where incubators line one large room, the new digs are designed for comfort and privacy, said Shoo Lee, pediatrician-in-chief and director of the Maternal-Infant Research Centre at Mount Sinai.

“Families can feel at home and treat it like part of their home because babies can be here for a long time,” he said.

Another change is the family integrated care pilot program; through a series of classes, parents are taught to be primary caregivers, feeding and monitoring their children vitals.

The Reillys are participating in the program. Don comes in daily, before work, and present Jocelyn’s condition during morning rounds.

“They educate us enough and empower us enough to try and present our baby on the day, because nobody knows her better than us,” he said.

“We are able to care for our child in a different way,” adds Carolyn. “The amount of knowledge we’ve gained being here, we feel more confident about the day we bring Jocelyn home.”

According to Lee, parent involvement results in a measurable benefit to the babies’ health, allowing them to grow faster, suffer from fewer complications and go home faster.

In addition to the neonatal intensive care unit, there is a new labour and delivery centre and antenatal unit for women with high-risk pregnancies.

State of the art operating rooms are separate from the rest of the unit to protect against infection. The ORs are equipped with resuscitation pods for babies who need it.

“It provides much better and safer care,” said Mathew Sermer, obstetrician and gynaecologist-in-chief at Mount Sinai.

Little Jocelyn’s weight has doubled in the time she’s been at Mount Sinai. While the Reillys are looking forward to taking her home, they say the care they’ve received at the hospital has eased an otherwise difficult time in their lives.

Originally published by the Toronto Star on Sunday, February 15, 2015

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