Neonatologist Derrick Rollo, DO, knows too well the detrimental effects of noise on premature infants. Hospital staff, parents and visitors, mechanical and medical equipment, maintenance, housekeeping, and numerous other sources all create noise.
With no way to consistently and accurately monitor the noise, NICU staff personally reminded staff, parents and visitors to lower their voices or take their conversations away from the babies' bedsides – a hard request when families want and need to be close.
When Brett and Kailey Brady welcomed Brock at 29 weeks weighing 3 pounds, 13 ounces, they struggled to introduce 3-year-old sister Brynn while he was in the Small Baby Unit, the quietest of places.
“Brock started in the Small Baby Unit then transitioned to the larger unit, and there really is no comparison. It’s a noticeable difference in pitch and volume. It’s easy to fall asleep as an adult in the Small Baby Unit, so reminders to continue to be quiet in the regular NICU were helpful for our family,” Kailey said.
Thanks to Carle Health Center for Philanthropy and corporate donors from the 2018 Carle Golf Open, the NICU now has a noise-monitoring system in place with real-time visual feedback about noise levels.
“Carle’s investment in world-class service and serving the medical needs of the community really caught our eye and that’s why we really love being a partner,” Fred Berglund, president of Berglund Construction and title sponsor of the 2018 Carle Golf Open said.
Berglund said he’s had the opportunity to see up close what first-class treatment can do.
“The proof is right there,” Berglund said. “You can see before your eyes what Carle is doing with these investments.”
Nurse manager Carisa Jones, RN, said the equipment visually alerts staff if sound levels reach above normal decibels. The meters illuminate green, yellow and red – an easy indicator for families, too.
“In the NICU we work to create an environment that mimics the womb. Keeping the unit quiet is a key component to help babies thrive,” she said.
And they help families thrive too.
While in the NICU, the Bradys needing a helping hand introducing their daughter to her new baby brother.
At the time, Brynn told her parents she wanted “a different baby,” and her parents didn’t’ know what to do. That’s when Chris Dippel, RN, called in reinforcements from a Child Life specialist.
“We’re so grateful she connected us to this amazing resource. They came right away armed with coloring books and stickers to help explain the NICU to Brynn,” Kailey said. “Soon after, she started understanding that Brock is in the hospital getting sleep and engaging overall more with him. It was a lifesaver.”
The nurses respected the family, but explained to Brynn the need to be very quiet so the babies can sleep and grow and get better.
"It’s pretty hard at 3 to be absolutely quiet and to whisper,” Kailey said.
Jones said the SONICU technology tracks peak times for noise so staff and younger siblings are more aware.
“When the lights turn yellow or red, it’s a gentle reminder maybe it’s a bit too loud for the little ears nearby. It empowers families to have an immediate and direct impact on their child’s care,” she said.
The Bradys said some of the many strengths of the NICU team are helping them daily by explaining what’s happening, how best to care for their little one and what to expect next.
“The nurses here have halos you can’t see,” Kailey said. “When you’re here for so long you really start to see them as family – they are such a part of our daily lives. Everyone is so kind, considerate and compassionate. They are loving him and caring for him the way I hoped for – just like I do.”
Categories: Staying Healthy