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11.27.2007: NICU of the Future Project, Children's Hospital Boston: Current Challenges and Future Goals
SPEAKER: Stella Kourembanas, MD: Children's Hospital Boston
MODERATOR: Janice Crosby, RN, MBA: CIMIT
The NICU of the future must be specially designed to deal with the needs of premature infants. Currently, 12.5% of infants are born pre-term (before 37 weeks), and for reasons that are unclear, this percentage is rising. The annual cost of prematurity in the United States, considering hospital costs and lost parental productivity, is estimated to be about $26 billion, and it is clear that prematurity places infants at high risk for infection, malnutrition, and long-term neurological injury. Future research will hopefully lead to improved long-term outcomes for premature infants and to a lower rate of prematurity.
The NICU of the future must care for a unique population that will present many challenges. Both premature and full-term infants will receive care in the NICU, meaning that the space must be equipped to meet a variety of needs. Patients and families must have privacy, and the architectural layout of the NICU must be designed to minimize infection. The lighting must be acceptable to staff while being healthy for infants, and noise from beepers and alarms must be carefully controlled. Hopefully, the NICU of the future will be family-oriented yet staff-friendly and will be streamlined yet able to evolve with new technology.
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