A new neonatal unit, which will treat Ireland’s sickest and smallest babies, has been officially opened by Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Crumlin.
The 18-bed unit includes six high-dependency beds for babies with additional care needs. Together with six well-established neonatal high dependency beds in CHI at Temple Street, these new beds will provide long-planned specialised cots for a particularly vulnerable group of patients.
The new unit, which will transfer directly into the new children’s hospital, will also contain specialist equipment suitable for taking care of small and delicate babies.
“The new children’s hospital will bring together services for Ireland’s sickest and smallest newborns all on one site. The fantastic work behind the scenes now essentially means we will be ready to transfer the service directly into the new hospital as a fully operational service.
“This is a huge undertaking, with recruitment and training of specialised staff a particular focus,” explained CHI clinical director, Prof Adrienne Foran.
According to Jenny Dunne, a clinical nurse specialist, complex surgical and medical neonates require specialist neonatal nursing care as this has been shown to have a positive impact on patient outcomes.
“In preparation for the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in the new children’s hospital, we have created education pathways including the development of a CHI neonatal foundation programme and established links with our maternity colleagues, so that we can develop and attract a highly-skilled neonatal nurse workforce,” she noted.
Speaking at the launch of the new unit, Anne-Marie, whose son Alex was born at 25 weeks weighing just 570g, recalled the “tumultuous journey through NICU, PICU, HDU and SCBU”
“I feel compelled on reflection to highlight the crucial importance of a dedicated space to provide specialised care to these tiny individuals and their vulnerable parents. I feel very passionate about this and know that a dedicated neonatal unit with family-integrated care at the forefront will help to ease the trauma suffered by many families after the early arrival of their tiny babies,” she said.
Last year, the neonatology services at CHI Crumlin and Temple Street cared for over 460 babies. Neonatal patients sometimes have to stay in hospital for months. The average stay of a neonatology patient is approximately three times longer than the CHI average.