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Avera McKennan Opens State-of-the-Art NICU

Oct 26, 2015 03:56PM ● By MED Magazine

Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center recently celebrated the grand opening of its new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) on the fourth floor of the main hospital.


The $7 million specialized unit is 16,500 square feet in size. Its new design features all private rooms with frosted glass doors that allow families to have their own space, yet be within view of care staff. The new unit brings together two NICU areas that are currently on third and fourth floors, and replaces the current third-floor unit that is 4,000 square feet. The current fourth floor unit will be kept as overflow space.


“Based on site visits and focus groups, we designed our unit so that parents can be more involved in their baby’s care in intimate space from the very beginning. There is privacy for each family, yet still a sense of cohesiveness and support from other NICU families,” said Courtney Ehlers, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Avera McKennan.


The 31 rooms of the unit are grouped by color in three neighborhoods, both for staff 

 efficiency and a sense of community. Two rooms are specially equipped for twins, and one room for triplets, bringing the total capacity of the unit to 35 babies. Decentralized nurse stations in each neighborhood allow nurses to stay in immediate contact with patients and families.


The new unit will incorporate the latest NICU technology, including Giraffe OmniBeds in every room, for an optimal environment in terms of temperature and humidity.


Other technology includes an enhanced monitoring system for nurses and doctors, a new call system in which care staff receive alerts on their phones in case of monitor alarms or the push of a call button, and an advanced visitor ID system with photo badges for patient and family safety in the unit.


An Innovation project prior to construction based on Lean principles enhanced staff efficiency, so nurses can spend more time in patient care and education. All patient rooms will have a mobile cart that was designed by a multi-departmental team. Carts are equipped with supplies and equipment as well as workspace.


Through its Little Footprints, Big Hearts campaign to benefit the new NICU, the Avera McKennan Foundation is near its fundraising goal of $2 million.