Posted on December 13, 2017

Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Women’s Wellness and Research Center will introduce a unique model of care for critically ill newborns when its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is relocated from Women’s Hospital to the new facility.

Approximately 2,000 newborn babies requiring intensive medical attention are admitted to the NICU each year. Most are born prematurely, with others having medical conditions or birth defects that require monitoring, medications or early surgical intervention. According to Dr. Hilal Al Rifai, Medical Director of Women’s Wellness and Research Center, the new model will increase continuity of care and encourage even better outcomes for critically ill newborns. He said: “The new model focuses on building a stronger bond between patients, parents, and their healthcare team, which we believe will result in a shorter length of stay, fewer complications, and improvements in parent involvement and satisfaction levels.”

Once relocated, the NICU will be situated across two floors of the Women’s Wellness and Research Center, offering a spacious environment that provides intensive and intermediate care to babies who are born prematurely, have a low birth weight, or have a medical condition that requires special care. The new model, which is considered unique, will eliminate the need to move babies within the NICU at different stages of care and will allow them to stay within the same location from admission to discharge. Babies will also be cared for by a single healthcare team throughout their time in the hospital. 

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“When a baby enters the NICU, their condition is assessed and the care they need is determined based on the level of intervention required. For example, our intensive care babies are cared for in a specialized unit within the NICU that is designed for babies born at less than 32 weeks gestation, who weigh less than 1.4 kilograms or may suffer from feeding, breathing or infection issues. Under our current model, babies who are currently in this unit will transition to the regular NICU as they grow and their condition becomes more stable. Under our new model, babies will stay in the same location, and will be cared for by the same team, for the duration of their time in the NICU,” said Dr. Al Rifai.

He went on to say that in addition to creating continuity of care, the new model also aims to reduce parents’ stress and anxiety, by providing families with their own dedicated care team. “Hamad’s commitment to maternal and neonatal care dates back to 1975 when our first NICU opened. Our reputation for caring for high-risk pregnancies is recognized throughout the region. Many of the babies we care for remain in the NICU for weeks at a time and this new model of care will help create an environment that provides families with greater comfort and privacy.”

Ms. Vicki Kilmurray, Director of Nursing for the Women’s Wellness and Research Center’s NICU, said that extending the time babies spend with their care team results in better health outcomes. “Keeping babies and their healthcare team together allows the NICU team to focus on understanding each baby’s needs. It enables us to optimize both short and long-term physical, mental, and emotional development. The team will also have the ability to build stronger relationships with the parents and identify where they may require extra support, which will ultimately aid in their baby’s recovery and continued growth,” she added.

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The new model of care supports HMC’s vision of ensuring that babies born prematurely, and those who are critically ill, have the highly-specialized resources needed to achieve the best possible outcome. According to Dr. Al Rifai, as the largest NICU in the region caring for the most fragile infants, he and his team know that getting the right care, at the right time, in the right place is critical. “It is crucial for women, especially those who have been classified as having a high-risk pregnancy, to feel confident that we can provide the care their baby needs. The babies we treat need highly-specialized multidisciplinary care 24/7 and the new model that we will implement at Women’s Wellness and Research Center will better position us to provide that care,” said Dr. Al Rifai.

“Our aim is to provide an environment that encourages collaboration and the building of strong partnerships with the parents of the babies we care for. We want to equip them with the information they need so they can be involved in the decision-making process for the care we provide to their babies. These essential and mutually beneficial partnerships are the cornerstones of family-centered care and we are confident that the new model we will implement at the relocated NICU will encourage even greater collaboration,” added Dr. Hilal.