March of Dimes Awards $5,000 Community Grant to St. Luke's NICU Family Support Program
March of Dimes Awards $5,000 Community Grant to St. Luke’s University Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Family Support Program
(From left to right:) Mary Casey, RN, BSN, St. Luke’s NICU
nurse; Cindy Max, St. Luke’s University Health Network VP
of Operations; Tracy Trapp, Community Director, March of
Dimes, Northeast PA; Pat Gubich, RN, CPN, St. Luke’s
Patient Care Manager Pediatrics & NICU; and Jennifer
Janco, MD, St. Luke’s Interim Chief of Pediatrics celebrate
the March of Dimes Community Grant for $5,000 that will
help fund NICU staff professional development and
educational activities for parents of NICU babies.
Bethlehem, Pa. (7/6/2012) – One in every 10 babies born in the U.S. is admitted to a newborn intensive care unit (NICU) because of premature birth or another medical condition, according to statistics from the March of Dimes. Having a baby hospitalized in a NICU can be frightening, confusing and overwhelming for parents. To support the families with babies in the NICU and support those families in crisis, the March of Dimes has developed the NICU Family Support Program in conjunction with its national Prematurity Campaign.
In 2009 St. Luke’s University Health Network, which provides newborn intensive care in a Level III, twenty-three bed, nursery in Bethlehem, PA, and in Allentown at a smaller Level II, six bed newborn intensive care unit, partnered with the March of Dimes to host one of the first licensed NICU Family Support Programs in Pennsylvania. The driving force behind this partnership was the hospital’s desire to expand family centered care within the NICU, said Cindy Max, Vice President of Operations at St. Luke’s University Health Network.
Guided by former NICU families, the March of Dimes program is built on a family-centered philosophy and is implemented nationwide through March of Dimes chapters. The program addresses the needs of parents, siblings, grandparents and the extended family throughout the hospitalization, during the transition home and in the event of a newborn death. NICU Family Support also includes a professional development component that provides NICU staff with educational opportunities to help them sensitively support families on a daily basis. The March of Dimes NICU Families Web site offers 24-hour access to information, resources and online communities.
Each year, the March of Dimes awards Community Grants to external organizations across Pennsylvania to address unmet maternal and infant health needs. These Community Grants are one way that the March of Dimes pursues its mission of improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
March of Dimes Pennsylvania Chapter presented a $5,000 Community Grant to St. Luke’s University Hospital NICU Family Support Program last week. The grant supports NICU parent activities and NICU staff professional development to expand family-centered care and activities for preterm and critically-ill newborns.
March of Dimes and St. Luke’s NICU Family Support Program
As one of the first licensed programs in Pennsylvania, St. Luke’s membership with the March of Dimes Family Support program establishes the hospital network as a participant with only 70 other NICUs in the country. The program serves to help parents cope with NICU hospitalization. Created by the March of Dimes with the assistance of NICU families, the program aims to reduce parental anxiety and confusion, while embracing a family-centered care philosophy. A combined committee of NICU “graduate” parents and NICU health care professionals collaborate to support family centered care.
The program is customized to meet the specific needs of the NICU staff and parents and incorporates special components to address the needs of siblings and extended family members. The network also offers continuing education for NICU professional staff on topics related to caring for the critically-ill infant and family-centered care.
The program includes an individualized education program for clinicians caring for the neonatal population and interacting with parents. As part of the program, a parent information center is established to provide NICU parents access to a computer, printed educational information and on-line sharing with other NICU families.
Click here for more information about St. Luke’s University Health Network’s NICU locations.
Denise E. Rader
Director, Network Media Relations
St. Luke's University Health Network