The new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Sisters Health System (HSHS) at St. John’s Children’s Hospital (Springfield, Illinois) will double the space in the 56-bed facility. As the only level 3 neonatal intensive care unit in the area, the facility attracts patients from 39 counties in central Illinois, and some have to make decisions about caring for other children, attending jobs at home and spending time with their newborn away.
The project’s foundation is rooted in Evidence-Based Design (EBD) principles: the faster, and more comprehensively, the beds are encapsulated in children’s recovery, the better the results. Prior to designing the facility, the EBD workshop targeted specific indicators to be measured in both old and new settings to support this hypothesis – specifically, the hours the family spends with the child before discharge, the average length of stay, and the rate of readmission.
The project, which opened in March 2021, sought to prioritize family-centered care. It features private rooms that support families’ ability to stay overnight, which was not possible in the previous pod-style space. Additionally, the unit offers a hybrid nursing model with three branded care team neighborhoods and a milk laboratory where milk technicians can fortify breast milk or formula with additional nutrients specifically for each patient.
For the first time, HSHS St. John’s Spouse Care, which brings the mother and NICU baby into the same room while the mother remains in the hospital in the postpartum recovery period. The premise of the couple concept is that the parent-child bond is accelerated by facilitating immediate skin-to-skin contact and the initiation of breastfeeding, which ultimately leads to better outcomes for the baby.
Aesthetically speaking, great care has been taken to ensure that the design is liked by all family members. Careful attention has been given to care spaces and corridors that are full of light. The clean and bright interior is then highlighted with simple shapes, pops of bold color, and custom botanical graphics. These elements support defining the path and help emphasize smaller neighborhoods across the floor.
The future phase now underway will include family amenities including a lounge, kitchen and overnight sleeper suites.
Facility name: HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital
Location: Springfield, Illinois.
Completion date: Phase 1, March 2021; The second phase, October 2021
Owner: Hospital Sisters Health System
Total building area: 36,600 sq ft (renovation)
Total construction cost: $ 11 million
Cost / square meter. Feet: $ 300 / sq ft.
Architecture Firm: Kahler Slater
Interior design: Kahler Slater
General Contractor: O’Shea Builders
Engineering: Korda / Nemeth Engineering
Builder: O’Shea Builders