Oahu’s first single room NICU unveiled at Tripler AMC

| April 13, 2012 | 0 Comments
Col. (Dr.) Sarah Lentz-Kapua (left), chief, Pediatric Inpatient Services; Vickie Laubach (middle), clinical nurse educator, NICU; and Maj. (Dr.) Joseph Hudak (right), chief, Newborn Medicine; untie the maile lei as Brig. Gen. Keith Gallagher, commander, TAMC, looks on at TAMC’s NICU, April 3. The ceremony celebrated the completion of the first phase of the NICU’s two-phase renovation project.

Col. (Dr.) Sarah Lentz-Kapua (left), chief, Pediatric Inpatient Services; Vickie Laubach (middle), clinical nurse educator, NICU; and Maj. (Dr.) Joseph Hudak (right), chief, Newborn Medicine; untie the maile lei as Brig. Gen. Keith Gallagher, commander, TAMC, looks on at TAMC’s NICU, April 3. The ceremony celebrated the completion of the first phase of the NICU’s two-phase renovation project.

Story and Photo by
Jan Clark
Pacific Regional Medical Command Public Affairs

HONOLULU — The completion of the first half of a two-phased renovation project for a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, at Tripler Army Medical Center was celebrated with a blessing and lei ceremony, here, April 3. TAMC now has the first single family NICU on island and also in the military.

The state-of-the-art design and technology make this unit one of the safest patient units on island. The second half of the project is slated to be completed in early 2013.

During renovations, noise reduction/soundproofing was installed in the ceiling and floor. Because most of the babies in the NICU would, under ideal conditions, still be in their mother’s womb, sound levels are kept to neonatal standards. With dimmer light capabilities and a device to monitor sound level, the rooms provide the optimal environment for babies’ hearing, growth and overall development.

To ensure privacy for babies and parents, technology has been installed that allows nurses to monitor rooms from other locations on the ward.

“With the new monitor system, our nurses can be comfortable being in one room knowing that they have another baby in another room that they are responsible for,” said Patricia Wilhelm, nurse manager, NICU. “We have built in the technology that allows the alarm system from the monitors to reach the devices our nurses carry that will tell them when there is an alarm and a baby needs them,” Wilhelm said.

In opening remarks, Col. (Dr.) Sarah Lentz-Kapua, chief, Pediatric Inpatient Services, discussed the years-long process of making the patient centered-family centered NICU a reality.

“Ten years ago, in 2002, I made my initial request to the command … for a little more space and a true renovation of our 1989 vintage NICU and was given approval to move forward.”

“Having to build in two phases has proven a challenge, but babies had to be left in place during construction of phase one,” Lentz-Kapua said. “Our short-term goal was to build using the then relatively new concept of patient centered-family center care. The long-term goal was to have a brand new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.”

During the process, TAMC conferred with health care professionals who worked to develop a design using state-of-the-art technology.

“Everyone of my nurses has trained on every piece of equipment, every device, and participated in an eight-hour simulation training, which was phenomenal,” Wilhelm said.

The training gave the NICU staff time to “work out all of the kinks” and to develop teamwork, Wilhelm said. “I know that when we open these doors today and move patients, we are ready.”

“What we want to take away is that this was built with the patient in mind, with the patient at the center of everything we do,” said Brig. Gen. Keith Gallagher, commander, TAMC.

“And, as we migrate to a patient-centered medical home model throughout the entire Army and Department of Defense, this certainly sets the tone.

“It is all about saving lives. You do that better than anyone else, I think, on the island, in the country and around the world,” Gallagher continued. “You save lives and you do it very well.”

TAMC Neonatal Intensive Care

View more ceremony photos at www.flickr.com/TriplerAMC.

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Category: Community, Health

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