Three years ago, babies born prematurely generally spent their first three weeks of life in intensive care. Now, Cedars-Sinai’s Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit, part of the Maxine Dunitz Children’s Health Center, has shortened the average stay to 17 days, sending premature babies back home to their families much sooner.
In recent years, notable medical advances in nutrition, nonsurgical procedures and delivery protocols have helped improve the health and shorten the hospital stays of premature infants. Cedars-Sinai has implemented these advances, and focuses on coordinating each baby’s various and complex health needs.
Asha Puri, MD, associate clinical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, has introduced her team to “discharge bundles:” checklists that remind doctors, nurses, social workers and parents to take care of essential items well before babies are discharged. The bundle could include vaccination requirements, parental education and reminders to order special medical equipment for home use.
“Our goal is always reuniting a healthy baby with his or her family in as timely a fashion as possible,” says Puri. “Keeping this focus front-and-center is changing the way we work and leading to earlier releases.”
Cedars-Sinai NICU specialists begin working on each baby’s discharge bundle as soon as he or she enters the NICU, helping parents find the necessary medical equipment or developmental services. The hospital has also instituted weekly bedside rounds with every healthcare provider involved in each infant’s care, from doctors to therapists and social workers.
All of these in-hospital improvements, in addition to new prenatal treatments, are helping families welcome babies home sooner.