Beyond the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) is a pre-term infant home care nursing program to help premature babies and their families make a smooth transition from the hospital to home in both the Springfield and Decatur areas. A specially trained nurse meets with eligible parents in the hospital before discharge and then visits the home regularly for the next 18 months to monitor the child’s health and development, assist with resource needs and help coordinate follow-up care with doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. Home nurses also have regular contact with families through electronic communications. The program celebrated its first anniversary in July.
Beau Batton, MD, director of newborn services for HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital and chief of neonatology with SIU School of Medicine said, “Babies born prematurely are different from those born full term. They need extra help feeding, they sleep differently and their growth must be monitored more closely. The Beyond the NICU program is making a real difference because a child’s early life experiences have a tremendous effect on future physical and mental development.”
More than 50 infants are currently enrolled in the program. The NICU cares for more than 700 premature and seriously ill infants each year.
Katie Stauffer, RN, BSN, is one of two nurses currently visiting former NICU babies in the home. Stauffer has more than 20 years’ experience working with infants and new moms.
“Caring for infants brings me so much joy,” she said. “I’m excited to help pre-term infants reach their highest potential as they transition into toddlerhood.”
Pre-term infants aren’t the only ones who benefit from the program. NICU Operations Nurse Manager MaryBeth Miller, RN, BSN, says that while new mothers appreciate the medical expertise and guidance, they really value the emotional support the program provides. This is important as well because there is a close correlation between maternal mental health and infant outcomes.
Financial support for the program is provided by HSHS St. John’s Hospital Foundation. To support the Beyond the NICU program and other programs at St. John’s, go to www.st-johns.org/giving.
Additional information about the program and patient stories can be found on our website on the Beyond the NICU page.
About HSHS St. John’s Hospital
HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois is a regional medical center offering a comprehensive array of health care services to central and southern Illinois. Founded in 1875, St. John’s is the flagship hospital of Hospital Sisters Health System and is home to the Prairie Heart Institute, St. John’s Children’s Hospital, St. John’s Women’s Services, St. John’s Neurosciences Institute, St. John’s Cancer Center, orthopedic services and AthletiCare. St. John’s now has one of the most advanced surgery centers in the nation and a renovated patient tower with all private rooms. St. John’s is designated as a level I trauma center, has its own college of nursing and is a teaching hospital for the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. For more information about St. John’s Hospital, visit www.st-johns.org.
About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our 15 local systems and physician practices in Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit www.hospitalsisters.org.