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Bonding With Baby

baby pic 1MMF would like to create an opportunity for siblings of babies in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), to communicate with them in a safe, sterile environment. Through computers, MMF can create a “FaceTime” type of setup, enabling siblings to talk, sing and bond with their new brother or sisterWinthrop University Hospital in Mineola, New York is a leader in Neonatal care. They care for an average of 730 babies a year, who are born prematurely or have other medical problems, such as breathing disorders, infections or conditions requiring surgery.

Families are under a lot of stress when they have a baby in NICU, as they are often unable to bond with them and be as close to them as they would in normal circumstances. This is exacerbated tremendously when there are siblings involved. The sibling often feels alienated and excluded since they are unable to bond or spend time with their new little brother or sister.

MMF wants to change that through an innovative communication network, enabling them to see, speak to and bond with their sibling confined to NICU. Nurses have found that even minimal involvement can have a tremendous impact on families, allowing them to feel connected and experience the normal joys they are striving to feel. Funding for this project would help create a virtual bonding experience, bringing families together, while establishing and strengthening the sibling’s relationship with their new brother or sister.

The Child Life Center at Winthrop University Hospital believes this type of therapy would be beneficial for approximately 40% of the 730 NICU patients they see annually. Some NICU babies require surgery or extensive monitoring after birth, making this type of program difficult.

The Child Life Center which currently cares for siblings through music therapy and other activities, would work with families to create unique approaches to this type of communication and bonding. They foresee the approximate 300 families a year that would be eligible to participate in this program would feel more relaxed and be happier as the stresses of dealing with a sibling that feels excluded would be minimized. We will measure success by monitoring the families involved in the program and seek their feedback. Team will leverage this feedback to make changes as necessary, creating the best possible experience for all families.

While the immediate benefit is for the 300 eligible NICU patients annually at Winthrop, it is the long term vision of MMF to scale this out to other hospitals in the NY region then look to expand nationally and globally. This could be accomplished by carefully monitoring the program to learn what is working and look for continual improvement. After a year, MMF plans to write a plan on how this was created and implemented at Winthrop, look at factors of success and explain how others can emulate the program’s success. MMF could meet with other NICU administrators to walk them through the plan and important steps in the process including findings from the social workers, nurses, & child life specialists involved at Winthrop.

We have demonstrated our ability to scale programs created through project S.O.A.R. This program helps students academically, as they undergo cancer treatments. It helps children stay current on class work and aids in their reintegration back into their classroom. This program began at Winthrop Hospital and has scaled out to other hospitals through a systematic approach, enabling students to benefit regardless of where they are being treated.

Winthrop University Hospital Article