Choosing The Seton Medical Center Austin NICU :: Huge Changes To Support Families
When I had my daughter five years ago at Seton Medical Center Austin off Medical Parkway, she had a short stint in the NICU. As a first-time mom, this experience was absolutely terrifying. However, I was immediately settled with the incredible care the staff gives.
Now five years later, Seton has continued to evolve and find ways to make their NICU families not only feel supported, but to make them feel as if they are truly a 24/7 part of their child’s development in the NICU. This experience is one of the hardest any mom could go through. It is a hard-enough transition becoming a new mom then to add your baby being whisked off to a neonatal intensive care unit. There are so many elements, so many factors, so many tests, scans, IVs, medical jargon… the whole experience feels out of body. And all the mom, and family want to do is be with their little, precious one.
Seton has worked hard to make that a seamless transition. They recently launched their Hand to Hold Ambassador Program on January 22nd. This program allows for families to have an on-site ambassador at Seton that helps the families get all the support they need during this challenging time.
The risk for NICU parents to experience PTSD increases, because of all that they face. It is a very stressful and emotional situation. Long-term outcome is greatly impacted, and the added support of the on-site Hand-to-Hold ambassador will help them emotionally and mentally work through this chapter in their lives.
The Hand to Hold Ambassador Program at Seton Medical Center Austin will continue that support by offering a link to peers who have experienced a NICU stay, they can connect by phone or text.
Hand to Hold will have holiday events including Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day events when the parents are too stressed and occupied to think of doing anything… Seton knows how important it is to experience those holidays and to be reminded that those parents are indeed doing a wonderful job as parents to their fighting wee one.
There is a bead necklace initiative where the nurses give a bead to the mom after their baby reaches each new milestone, and when their baby graduates the NICU the mama has a beautiful necklace showing off how strong her fighter truly is. I think this is such a sweet, important piece that might go unnoticed, but for any mama that has experienced a child fighting for their lives… the small victories truly are huge victories.
The Hand to Hold Program will provide educational materials, which helps the parents navigate the NICU, the reader friendly handbook for the NICU graduate includes resources, references and information to help support the family once they go home.
Seton makes sure to provide continuing education to their staff, including seminars on identifying and mitigating bias as well as a plethora of other topics.
Hand to Hold even has podcasts with various topics to help support the families during their stay in the NICU, including: Finding Your Voice as s NICU Parent, as well as many more.
For bereaved families, there is support, connection to other families who have experienced loss, and Seton also partners with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Photography to keep those memories alive.
Seton has also established an exciting new initiative with NICView. It started the end of November and allows moms and families to opt in to literally view their little one if they have to be away. The parent can see their baby in the NICU, they can share their personal passcode with family members as well. They can see notes about what the baby’s schedule is, what all the baby has done or accomplished that day, etc.
When I had my oldest daughter in the NICU, my husband and I had to leave her for a few hours during the shift change. This was absolutely terrifying to me. Thankfully, nurses have fought to change this knowing mom wanted the option to be by their little one’s side 24/7. And that is literally what they did, the Seton NICU is now open 24/7 to parents… they can be present for shift change and to hear the report when changing from different nurses and doctors.
The Seton Medical Center Austin NICU unit opened in 1979. As the only NICU transport center, and a famous paper published in the mid-70s during the March of Dimes called Toward Improving Outcome of Pregnancy discussed Seton’s continued education and how its NICU unit was named after Mary Alice Shivers, who was the wife of the governor of Texas at the time. The NICU was truly grown by her for Austin… Seton Medical Center Austin Neonatal Unit was the first in the central Austin area.
Seton Medical Center Austin NICU encourages bonding, and they are always striving to get better which shows when the staff average stay is 16+ years.
The NICU is an experience no parent ever wants to go through, but sometimes it is necessary. I am so grateful to Seton for my own NICU experience with my little girl and I would undoubtedly choose the new and improved Seton Medical Center Austin Neonatal Intensive Care Unit ten times over if I ever went through it again.