Big Little Move at Cook Children's

New NICU opens to about 40 babies

By Chris Van Horne
|  Tuesday, Sep 6, 2011  |  Updated 6:38 PM CDT
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It took less than two hours to move 40 babies to the new Cook Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Tuesday.

Chris Van Horne, NBC 5

It took less than two hours to move 40 babies to the new Cook Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Tuesday.

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It was moving day at Cook Children's Hospital for dozens of babies on Tuesday. It wasn't a long move, but the cargo was extremely delicate.

The hospital opened its $51 million Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on Tuesday.

Nurses, parents and babies said it is a welcome change of environment.

"At times, it's very stressful because it's very cluttered and it's hard to move around," new mom Kristen Page said. "And you don't want to get in the way of other babies."

Her first child, Travon Deon Clark, is now 47 days old after he was born more than two months premature.

"He was born at 1 pound, 4 ounces. Now he's 2 pounds and 9 ounces," she said.

A team of nurses carefully unhooked monitors and machines in exchange for portable ones to make the trek down the hall, moving baby Travon into his new room in less than 15 minutes.

"It was quite the entourage for each baby coming over," said Barbara Greer, Cook Children's NICU nursing director.

In just less than two hours, about 40 babies made the move to the new unit, where families can now essentially live at the bedsides of their newborns in private. The rooms feature a rocking chair and couch that can be a place for mom and dad to sleep. The private rooms will allow parents to be more involved in their children's care and allow them to remain closer.

While most NICUs are 24/7 facilities for families, that close contact care makes a big difference.

"Studies have shown that when all of those things are combined they have better outcomes, the babies do," Greer said.

After just a few minutes in what will likely be her new home for the next few weeks, Page already had a positive review.

"It's way better than being over there," she said referring to the old NICU.

Page, who planned on spending the night in the new room, said it's not quite home just yet but is "close enough."

The new NICU has 99 rooms for 106 babies. There are dedicated rooms for twins, triplets and quadruplets.

Cook Children's said it is the first all-private room NICU in the state and the largest in the nation. Other hospitals in the area do offer some private rooms, but primarily operate in shared-room environments.

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