The expanded Level III NICU at St. Francis Medical Center is the first phase of construction for the four-story expansion to serve the growing population on the city’s north side, increasing capacity from 30 to 46 beds. The design emphasizes room flexibility to allow maximum medical gas to accommodate all patient acuity levels as well as a family sleeping zone and full restrooms. The NICU opened in August 2018, and the remainder of the expansion is scheduled for completion in early 2019.
Level III NICUs provide the highest level of care for premature or critically ill babies with a clinical team comprised of a wide variety of highly specialized staff. After years of research and collaboration with Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, the design team crafted the NICU in the Family Integrated Care Model which encourages greater parent involvement in the care of premature infants. Traditionally, infants are separated from their parents, but studies show that this often has a negative impact on the well-being of both the parents and the infants. With this new model, parents are encouraged to be essential members of the healthcare team.
The expanded NICU features two state-of-the-art couplet care rooms where mothers and babies are kept together in the same room and cared for by the same nursing team. The St. Francis Medical Center’s NICU is the only one in Colorado, and only the fourth in the nation, with couplet care rooms.
In each private patient room, advanced room lighting supports and stimulates babies’ circadian rhythms to promote growth and accelerate babies’ release to home. Increased space was also designed to care for multiples (twins, triplets, etc.) in the same room, easing family visits. As families prepare to be discharged, a family pre-discharge room closely models the experience of home and provides a place for nursing staff to support parents preparing to transition out of the hospital.
A NICU family lounge and Wellness Garden were created to provide respite and to allow families to connect with and support each other. The garden leads to a Sky Lobby, an outdoor patio with mountain views for staff and families. Biomimicry and local artwork are featured throughout the spaces. Skylights provide extensive daylighting in the Wellness Garden and Reception area.