Opening of new Neonatal Unit launches future of Neonatal Service for Children’s Health Ireland – treating Ireland’s sickest and smallest babies
Tuesday 15th November 2022
Children’s Health Ireland today launched the opening of a new Neonatal Unit in Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin, marking a major step on the way to delivering the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in the new children’s hospital and providing world-class neonatal care.
The 18-bedded Unit in CHI at Crumlin includes six neonatal high dependency beds for babies with additional care needs. Together with six well-established neonatal high dependency beds in CHI at Temple Street, this will provide long-planned specialised cots for a particularly vulnerable group of patients. The new unit, which will transfer directly into the new children’s hospital, will also contain specialist equipment, suitable for taking care of small and delicate babies. (Particular thanks to our Children’s Health Foundation who are making this possible).
Professor Adrienne Foran, Clinical Director in Children’s Health Ireland, said: “The new children’s hospital will bring together services for Ireland’s sickest and smallest newborns all on one site. The fantastic work behind the scenes now essentially means we will be ready to transfer the service directly into the new hospital as a fully operational service. This is a huge undertaking, with recruitment and training of specialised staff a particular focus. The new hospital will deliver an outstanding neonatal service tailored to patients and families, while investing in staff development and wellbeing.”
Dr Ann Hickey, Consultant Neonatologist in Children’s Health Ireland said; “All inpatient beds in the new hospital will be single occupancy, giving newborns and their families privacy during what can be a very difficult time. Family quiet rooms and kitchens, as well as an adult bed in each room, will create a more comfortable and inclusive environment for families. Dedicated neonatal areas, such as the NICU, will also have a different appearance to other parts of the hospital – dimmed lighting and sound control, among other features, reduce stress as newborns adjust to life outside the womb.”
Jenny Dunne, Clinical Nurse Specialist said: “Complex surgical and medical neonates require specialist neonatal nursing care as it has been shown to have a positive impact on patient outcomes. In preparation for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the new children’s hospital, we have created education pathways including the development of a CHI neonatal foundation programme and established links with our maternity colleagues so that we can develop and attract a highly skilled neonatal nurse workforce”.
Alex, now aged 3, was born at 25 weeks, weighing 570g (half a bag of sugar) and received his care between Ireland and the UK.
Mum Anne-Marie said: “We travelled a tumultuous journey through NICU, PICU, HDU, and SCBU, and I feel compelled on reflection to highlight the crucial importance of a dedicated space to provide specialised care to these tiny individuals and their vulnerable parents. I feel very passionate about this and know that a dedicated neonatal unit with family integrated care at the forefront will help to ease the trauma suffered by many families after the early arrival of their tiny babies.”
In 2021, the Neonatology service at CHI at Crumlin and Temple Street cared for over 460 babies. Neonatal patients can sometimes stay for months in hospital: the average stay of a Neonatology patient is approximately three times longer than the CHI average.
Denise Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of Children’s Health Foundation said “ We are delighted to be here today for the launch of a new Neonatal unit in CHI at Crumlin, and see first-hand the impact donations will have for small and delicate babies. With over €1.1m invested in the refurbishment of this unit, we would like to extend our sincere thanks to each and every supporter who have made today possible, ensuring every sick child deserves the very best chance”.