NICU Family Support Programs Give Florida Families Comfort And Information During A Crisis

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Nowhere are the consequences of premature birth more evident than in hospital neonatal intensive care units (NICU) across Florida. In the next week, 563 babies will be born too soon in Florida. Their frightened, overwhelmed families will stand by and watch their babies be admitted into a NICU. Having a baby hospitalized in a NICU can be one of the most frightening and overwhelming experiences a parent faces.

To help families cope with the stress of this unexpected experience, the March of Dimes created NICU Family Support, a program that provides information and comfort to families of premature babies and other critically ill newborns cared for in NICUs. Through the program, families can work with a NICU Family Support Specialist, receive informational materials, and participate in Parent Education Hours, NICU Family Photo Shoots, Bedside Reading Libraries and Family Scrap-booking Nights and activities for siblings.

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"Through NICU Family Support, we hope to make the journey through newborn intensive care smoother and less traumatic for families," said Charles Mahan, M.D., March of Dimes Florida Chapter Prematurity Campaign Chair.

Elaine Almond of Gainesville experienced the NICU Family Support program while her baby was in the NICU for 10 weeks. "The information and support we received through NICU Family Support helped us get through the emotional rollercoaster of having our baby in a NICU."

The March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program is currently being implemented in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. By the end of 2007, there will be a NICU Family Support Program in every state reaching over 35,000 families annually. Florida residents can help fund NICU Family Support programs by visiting marchofdimes.com/everybaby.

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