Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital has unveiled its new newborn ICU that will offer families needing highly-specialized intensive care for newborn babies a state-of-the-art private, spacious, and high-tech environment to help these tiny patients survive and thrive.
The new newborn ICU at Primary Children’s Hospital is the most highly specialized NICU in the Intermountain West, providing surgical services, critical care including heart-lung bypass, and a multitude of pediatric specialists to provide care to infants with the most complex medical conditions.
The space is double the size of the original unit and equipped for overnight parental stays and with state-of-the-art technology designed for the care of tiny and medically fragile infants.
All rooms are private, with space for a parent to spend the night. Each room includes a pump for nursing mothers and Angel Eye cameras above the baby’s crib, so parents can view their little ones anytime they’re away. An expanded waiting area will help support families.
The new newborn ICU is part of Intermountain Healthcare’s “Primary Promise” to create the nation’s model health system for children. This initiative and historic investment of at least $500 million in children’s health will be shared by Intermountain Healthcare and community philanthropic support through an emerging campaign organized by the Intermountain Foundation.
“This model system starts with helping the most vulnerable babies heal and thrive in our neonatal intensive care unit,” said Katy Welkie, RN, MBA, chief executive officer of Primary Children’s Hospital and vice president of Intermountain Children’s Health.
“The new newborn ICU provides state of the art technology and spaces to match the heroic care infants receive,” Welkie said. “Each baby and family have their own room, with in-room accommodations for overnight parent stays, improved infection prevention, technology, and privacy for families, helping us to support the child first and always in our care.”
Intermountain’s model health system for children will feature a blend of program, research, and capital expansion, and bring together specialized pediatric caregivers from multiple Intermountain facilities and Primary Children’s pediatric partners at the University of Utah Health.
The initiative is designed to serve children in a 400,000 square mile area encompassing Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, and Alaska. Philanthropy is key to the initiative’s success, including ongoing efforts to support patients in the new Primary Children’s newborn ICU.
This kind of care was critical to baby Sutton, born with spina bifida in Lander, Wyo. Sutton was flown to Primary Children’s Hospital immediately after birth for surgery and follow up specialty care.
“Our beautiful boy stayed in the Primary Children’s newborn ICU for 34 days, where he received outstanding care and met his favorite nurse, Sam Keirsey,” said Sutton’s mother, Amber. “Sam brought her positive radiating energy, and you couldn’t help but feel happiness in her presence, even after a stressful day. She also never let me miss a precious moment or time to celebrate Sutton’s milestones, even when I had to travel back and forth to Wyoming.”
Amber could view Sutton using the Angel Eye technology, and check on him when he was sleeping, enjoying Disney music, or even receiving his first bath-time mohawk from nurse Sam.
The technology was especially handy when Sutton took his car seat test to ensure he could tolerate the long ride home.
“Sam held up a sign under the Angel Eye that said, ‘He passed!’” Amber said. “Let me tell you I was in tears.”
Today, Sutton is nearly 7 months old. He’s fascinated by Velcro, loves snuggles, blowing raspberries, and going outside to watch the family dog play fetch. Amber says she’s glad she was at Primary Children’s in the former newborn ICU, and that the larger, private spaces will be great for families.
“We received outstanding care at Primary Children’s. Friends who also had preemie babies and children treated at Primary Children’s would say to me, ‘You’re exactly where you need to be,’” she said. “That was the most reassuring thing, because we picked Primary Children’s for Sutton’s care. It was nice that we were right where we were supposed to be.”
Primary Children’s original newborn ICU opened in 1990 on the west side of the hospital’s top floor. The new NICU is across the hall. The modernized 34,000-square-foot NICU has double the square footage of the original.
“On behalf of our caregivers and babies, who aren’t speaking just yet but will be soon, we are so grateful for a quieter healing environment where they can have parents spend the night with them,” said Kara Curnen, RN, newborn ICU director. “To the people in the communities we serve, who have generously given of their precious resources to help this newborn ICU become a reality, we thank you.”