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Suggestions for creating a better NICU (draft)

A word about the's a rough draft of what I hope is an ongoing discussion in the community about creating a better Neonatal Intensive Care environment for babies, parents, and medical staff. It comes from experience as a parent and the only experience I have is with the Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago--a 50 bed, Level III facility that is one of the best in the nation. My daughter got amazing care, but even the strongest families can suffer with stays that last weeks or even months.

Some of the following suggestions are simple. Some are not. My plan is to forward them to various sources when I feel that the list is more complete. They are in no particular order.

  • Parents should receive, at bedside (or online), a daily summary of their baby's day for easy reference.
  • Bed areas should have curtains for privacy during family visits and perhaps a more homelike feel with rocker, chairs, table, etc..
  • For longer stays, mom and dad should have easier access to the NICU with less badging & sign-in steps. Perhaps an electronic system or swipe card? 
  • My understanding is that nurses can request babies--I would suggest that parents be able to request nurses. 
  • Continuity of care is a major issue...The level of communication, care, and opinion of how a baby is doing seems to depend on who saw them. 
  • Parents should have an easier time getting information and knowing their baby's schedule and the NICU schedule. Perhaps an online login for e-mailing doctors? A point of contact for discussion of treatment should also be created. Being able to discuss your baby with one person helps avoid playing catch-up every shift/day. It also makes it easier for parents to easily make changes or suggestions or ask questions about their baby's care. 
  • Parents should be given reasonable veto and say in decisions made about their baby. Non-critical or non life-threatening medical treatments should be offered as a choice to be made under advice from doctors. Too often, NICU staff act and then tell parents what was done. 


  1. I also wanted to add that while we have been fairly pleased with the NICU care Leda has gotten, the L&D was a different story. Our complaints there were more numerous and I'd consider that to be rated merely adequate to sub-par.


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