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March of Dimes - Rhode Island Chapter

220 West Exchange St. #003

Providence, RI  02903

(401) 454-1911

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    NICU Family Support

    The NICU Family Support Program is currently active within the Akron Children's Hospital Medical Center in Akron, Ohio. The March of Dimes, which historically has funded and supported technical and medical advances in neonatology and in NICUs, has now expanded its role by responding to the emotional and informational needs of NICU parents during the NICU hospitalization, the transition home and in the event of a newborn's death. In addition, the March of Dimes support NICU professional development and support in order to enhance service delivery to the families of critically ill newborns.

    Project Aims:

    To provide information and support to parents and families during a NICU hospitalization of their newborn and during the transition home.

    To provide comfort and support to families who suffer the death of a newborn in the NICU setting.

    To improve the relationship and communication between NICU staff and NICU parents through professional development and support opportunities.

    Support to Parents in Akron

    Parent Care Kits
    The March of Dimes provides informational and emotionally supportive materials (3 booklets and 2 videos) about the NICU experience for distribution to all families with a child admitted to the NICU. The books provide information on... 1) a basic NICU orientation for parents, describing the staff, equipment, and common conditions seen in the NICU in a glossary-like format, 2) the emotional aspects parents will experience during the NICU experience, 3) a special baby book that allows parents to track the unique course their child will take in their hopeful progress to full health. The two videos included serve as an introduction to the NICU staff, equipment, common procedures and ways of negotiating this system, and as an overview of the various things to expect in the hospitalization of a premature baby.

    Comprehensive Photography Program
    Photos are very special to NICU families. A photo is a spontaneous, tangible documentation of a moment that can be shared with others. For many NICU families, pictures are the only way they can share their child with others. For some, it is the only thing they are able to leave the NICU with if their child does not survive. Most families are so stressed that they don't thnk to bring a camera. This program insures that ALL families have beautiful, quality, lasting photos of their child.

    Transition to Home Project
    Whether it is a first child or a couple has other children at home, taking a child home after a stay in the NICU is a difficult thing for families. Some families may only stay a few days, while others may be in the hopsital for over a year. Families find it difficult to leave the equipment and medical support. The more they are able to do in the hospital, the easier the transition to home can be. Through this module, families receive a "going HOME" binder filled with information sheets divided into eight different categories. Additional sheets can be added so that each book is customized for the needs of that family and child.

    Neonatal Transort Support Program
    Imagine having your child, finding out there is a problem, and then having your newborn taken immediately by ambulance to another hospital hours away. This scenario happens to many families in the NICU. The NICU at Akron Children's Hospital receives ill and premature newborns from 35 hospitals in 17 counties. Through this module: the hospital dedicated transport team provides every family with a Polaroid picture of their child before they leave the birth hospital and each family receives a photo composite of the neonatologists. Families who rush to the new hospital frequently come without any money. Each family also receives a "cafeteria cash" coupon so that they can go to the cafeteria and get something to eat. Lastly, a pamphlet has been created which answers the most common questions parents/families have about why a transport is necessary, and a sheet has been prepared including all the hotels and restaurants in the area if they offer a discount to NICU families.

    For More Information
    Questions should be directed to the NICU Family Support Program Coordinator, Kristie Stefan at (216) 643-3330 or (330) 543-DIME.

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