Children’s Hospital Unveils NICU


The University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH), in conjunction with the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, unveiled its new 37,000-square-foot Drs. Rouben and Violet Jiji Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The new unit, triple the size of the previous NICU, will meet the rapidly rising need for specialty care and innovative research to benefit the smallest and most fragile patients in a family-centered care environment.

In the new NICU, the Division of Neonatology in the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s
Department of Pediatrics, will provide a full range of state-of-the-art therapies for treating extremely premature and premature babies, including nutritional management, surgical interventions for birth defects including congenital heart disease, abdominal wall defects, cleft lip/palate repair and brain
malformations, whole body cooling for neonatal encephalopathy, care of infants with congenital diaphragmatic hernia and care of infants with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.

The new unit has 52 private rooms, each with a sleeping couch, to allow families the privacy and space they need to bond with their baby and perform important developmental practices such as skin-to-skin contact. To better accommodate the sensory sensitivities of premature and critically ill infants, each room is equipped with controllable light and sound to help regulate circadian rhythms and mimic the environment within the womb. A large family lounge with a fully equipped kitchen, dining area and sitting room has been added so families and siblings of NICU babies can gather, play and relax in a comfortable, home-like setting.

Each room in the new NICU is equipped with a noise tracker to reduce ambient noise as well as a system that will allow families and staff to control the sounds each baby hears. These sounds can include music, a recording of parents’ voices or a track that mimics the sounds within the womb. The development of babies who receive the new sound environment will be compared to babies who did not receive it. Researchers in the NICU also plan to study the air quality of incubators, the impact of skin-to-skin contact and connectivity of brain cells when introduced to two stimuli simultaneously.

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