Valley is one of only three hospitals in New Jersey to offer this program
April 30, 2014 — A new partnership between The Valley Hospital and the March of Dimes offers information, support, and comfort to parents with premature and sick babies in Valley’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
On April 28, Valley launched the March of Dimes NICU Family Support® program during a dedication celebration held at the hospital, which was attended by Valley staff, March of Dimes representatives, and NICU families. Valley is one of only three hospitals in New Jersey to offer March of Dimes NICU Family Support®.
The program is funded by a gift from Robert and Barbara Swanson, made in memory of their son, John Halladay Swanson. The Swanson gift will be supplemented by a gift from the Marron-Manginello Endowment Fund, according to Frank P. Manginello, M.D., Chairman of Children’s Services for Valley Medical Group and Medical Director of the Kireker Center for Child Development.
One in every 10 babies born in the U.S. is admitted to a NICU because they are born too soon, too small, with a birth defect, or with another medical condition. March of Dimes NICU Family Support® provides information and comfort to families to help them cope with the emotional experience, provides professional development for hospital staff to help them support families, and coordinates family-centered care in the NICU.
“As NICU physicians, nurses, and staff, we provide state-of-the-art care for our babies and do our best to help the parents, but only NICU parents understand the emotional experience of having a premature or ill newborn,” says Carmela R. Pane?, M.D., Director of Neonatology at Valley. “March of Dimes NICU Family Support® enables us to enhance the family-centered care we emphasize in our NICU and to empower parents to partner with us in actively caring for their babies while they are with us and as they transition to home.”
“The Valley Hospital and the March of Dimes share a long history of working together to improve the health of babies in New Jersey,” says Laurie Navin, Director of Program Services for the March of Dimes New Jersey Chapter. “We are thrilled to partner with Valley in supporting babies’ families as well as providing professional development for their physicians, nurses, and staff.”
March of Dimes NICU Family Support® is guided by a Valley NICU nurse/family support specialist and 40 NICU alumni families, including a team of parent “buddies,” who will be paired with new NICU parents to walk them through the NICU experience, encourage parent advocacy, and provide someone to lean on for support. Women with high-risk pregnancies who must be hospitalized for complete bed rest at Valley will also be included in the support services. A volunteer Patient Family Advisory Committee will guide program selection, development, and implementation that is specific to the needs of Valley NICU families.
March of Dimes NICU Family Support® specialist and Valley NICU nurse Suzanne Bryjak, RN, BSN, points out that evidence-based research shows that support for NICU families results in decreased rates of anxiety, post-partum depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder among NICU parents and family members and increased patient satisfaction rates.
“When NICU parents are welcomed and supported right from birth, they are more involved with their newborns’ daily hands-on and skin-to-skin care. This in turn results in babies who thrive, go home quicker, and experience better outcomes,” she says. “When supported by professional development, the staff is recognized for the worthy work they do.”
Valley’s family support “buddies” were recruited from former NICU families, who Ms. Bryjak says were passionate about giving back to the NICU and its staff.
“The NICU experience leaves parents changed, no matter what their baby’s outcome or length of stay, and they want that experience to have meaning and value,” she says. “Supporting current NICU families offers them an opportunity to help us improve the quality of our services.”
March of Dimes NICU Family Support® at Valley Health encompasses the following components:
• A March of Dimes NICU Family Support® specialist with NICU experience;
• a volunteer Patient Family Advisory Committee;
• specially trained Valley NICU alumni parents;
• sensitive and engaging educational materials that introduce parents to the staff, equipment, procedures, and conditions they may encounter in the NICU and how to care for baby in the hospital and through to the transition to home;
• access to the co-branded March of Dimes/Valley Health families’ web site, which offers information and resources about the NICU stay;
• professional development for the NICU staff to help support their work with families;
• customized programs that serve the specific needs of Valley NICU families; and
• the March of Dimes Share Your Story web site (www.shareyourstory.org) and Spanish-language web site (www.nacersano.org), which will be linked from Valley’s web site.
Caption: On April 28, Valley launched the March of Dimes NICU Family Support® program during a dedication celebration held at the hospital, which was attended by Valley staff, March of Dimes representatives, and NICU families. Valley is one of only three hospitals in New Jersey to offer March of Dimes NICU Family Support®. Shown here standing (left to right): Laurie Navin, Director of Program Services, the New Jersey Chapter of the March of Dimes; Jessamyn Ressler-Maerlender, MPH, Manager, NICU Family Support, the National Office of the March of Dimes; Susan Apple, Manager, NICU, The Valley Hospital; Carmela Pane’, Director of Neonatology, The Valley Hospital; Frank Manginello, M.D., Chair of Children’s Services, Valley Medical Group and Medical Director, Kireker Center for Child Development; Suzanne Bryjak, NICU March of Dimes Family Support Specialist, The Valley Hospital; Joanne Simonetti, Director of Inpatient Women’s and Children’s Services, The Valley Hospital; and Peter Diestel, Chief Operating Officer, The Valley Hospital. Seated are Kay Ruvolo, Co-Chair, Patient and Family Advisory Council, with Kazu; and Tangela Williams-Hill, a member of the Patient and Family Advisory Council, with Mason and Matthew.