St. Michael’s is Canada’s only large teaching hospital offering a state-of-the-art NICU, maternity space with obstetrics & gynecology, and a recovery unit – all on a single floor. This single-floor approach means moms won’t be separated from their babies if either of them needs special care. And it means that if anything goes wrong during a normal delivery, moms and babies can be treated right where they are by world-class experts.
St. Michael’s is among a select group of NICUs using the gold standard in medical care for baby. Many hospitals promote ‘patient-centred’ care in which families are ‘invited’ to be at patients’ bedsides. We subscribe to Family Integrated Care (FiCare). FiCare asks parents to be fully involved in their baby’s care. And for good reason – FiCare means premature babies have fewer infections, higher rates of healthy feeding and they go home faster. Nurses work alongside parents to teach them how to best care for their babies, easing the transition home. We expect families to act as their baby’s nurse, which is not only good for the parent, but is now recognized as the gold standard in medical care for baby.
We are the hospital other hospitals call when they need advice on how to care for vulnerable moms and their babies. Our staff excels at treating pregnant women living with complex medical diseases including cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, blood disease, trauma, cancer, heart disease, and other medical complications. We also care for more pregnant women who suffer from homelessness, HIV, mental health challenges or addictions than any other hospital in the province – and we treat 30-40 babies a year with full-blown opioid addiction. These babies can be delivered healthy if their mothers receive proper prenatal care. “The journey can start even before conception,” says Dr. Filomena Meffe, chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “We have the largest cystic fibrosis and multiple sclerosis centres in North America. When these women get pregnant, we take care of them.”
It’s all about the family: The science tells us that by 18 to 24 months old, preterm babies who spent their first days and weeks in a single-family room showed better language and cognitive development compared to those who remained in the traditional open-concept NICU. When our new unit opens, we will be part of this vanguard.
We never stop inventing: Sometimes families can’t be there for their sick newborn, especially if parents have other children to care for. So we have specially-trained cuddlers to make sure newborns get the physical contact they need to get well. The cuddling program was developed right here at St. Michael’s. Our research shows that human touch helps babies gain weight faster, reduces stress and gets them home sooner. Other hospitals across Canada have adopted cuddling programs for babies suffering from withdrawal.