CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System opened a seven-bed Continuing Care Nursery (CCN) on Aug. 2, 2016, to provide extended step-down care for preterm and term babies with medical conditions. The CCN is located near the region’s only level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) on 5 North.

The CCN will be used for babies born too soon or are ill who have been in the NICU, but no longer need NICU-level care and are nearly ready for discharge from the hospital.  “For example, a premature infant receiving care in the NICU, requiring supplemental oxygen and nutrition via an IV, could transition to the CCN when they are no longer dependent on oxygen and are receiving the majority of their nutrition through breast milk or formula,” shared Rebecca Barr, NICU, CCN and Nursery Manager.

“We are excited about the opening of the new Continuing Care Nursery,” said Jannice Phillips, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services. “The unit is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and staffed by highly skilled nurses and physicians. It allows for continued advanced care and monitoring of infants who have graduated from the neonatal intensive care unit but still require additional specialized care and services as they get closer to being ready to go home.”

The CCN also provides overnight accommodations for the infant’s family.  The mother or father can be with the baby day or night as they adjust to caring for, feeding, providing diaper care, bathing, giving medications, and bonding with the baby prior to discharge from the hospital.

“Our private room settings and round the clock visitation allows parents and families the opportunity to spend time and participate in the care of their babies,” said Phillips.  “In addition, babies can also be transferred in from other facilities, allowing families the convenience of being closer to home.”

“What we are most excited about is being able to provide a more family-centered environment for our families,” explained Barr.  “It is so important that the babies are able to spend quality time with their mom, dad and other close family members. We are so thankful to provide this service to our community.”

“This new unit gives us more space, but even more important is the fact we can provide a more family-centered environment for infants needing this level of care,” said Susan Keeney, M.D, Medical Director of NICU, CCN and Nursery.

The CHRISTUS St. Michael NICU offers babies born as young as 26 weeks gestation the opportunity to grow and develop under the care of a board-certified neonatalogist as well as board-certified neonatal nurse practitioners, who are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, neonatal nurses have been specially trained to provide comprehensive care for NICU babies.

Since 2009, the CHRISTUS St. Michael NICU has cared for 1,250 babies.  When a baby is transferred to an out-of-town hospital, the family is burdened with undue expenses for travel, lodging, and meals with the added stress of being separated from their support system.

“So many families have been able to stay close to home, near family and friends and sleep in their own beds while their baby receives care in the CHRISTUS St. Michael NICU,” said Barr.  “We have a great multi-disciplinary team of highly skilled nurses, neonatal nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, occupational therapist, pharmacists, social workers, case managers and others who help provide excellent care to our babies.”