New era for neonatal care in the south

Some of the State’s most vulnerable babies are ready to be relocated to their new, state-of-the-art neonatal facility at Flinders Medical Centre (FMC).

 

The Marshall Liberal Government today officially opened the $17.5 million-dollar, purpose-built facility, with its tiny residents being moved on Monday and Tuesday.

Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade said the former Labor Government had proposed to close the FMC neonatal intensive care unit under Transforming Health.

“The neonatal ICU is an integral part of the southern community and the proposed centralisation from Labor sparked outrage from clinicians and families, and prompted an embarrassing backflip from the previous government,” Minister Wade said.

“The plan would’ve seen parents of some of the highest acuity babies having to travel an extra 15km to visit their newborns at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, adding stress to an already stressful time.

Minster Wade said the redevelopment of the neonatal facility incorporates state-of-the-art technology and is based on a family-integrated model of care.

“The FMC neonatal unit has a national reputation for providing world-class care for high risk preterm newborn babies and their families, with a track record of clinical innovation, the use of information technology, and research.

“It is also recognised for having one of the highest rates of survival without disability of infants that are born extremely preterm (< 28 weeks) in Australia and New Zealand.

“Today, we are cementing that reputation by opening a larger neonatal unit that has been designed with families at the centre of their baby’s care.

“The redevelopment will not only benefit residents in Adelaide’s south – it will continue to accommodate some of the most critical and complex cases from around the State and from the Northern Territory.”

The new neonatal unit, which is 30 per cent larger than the old unit, includes a total of 50 beds with 16 Neonatal Intensive Care beds, 10 high dependency beds, and 24 special care beds.

Head of Unit of the FMC neonatal unit, Associate Professor Peter Marshall said around 35 babies will be moved from the old unit to the new unit, each accompanied with a doctor and nurse.

“We treat approximately 1,250 sick and preterm babies each year from across South Australia, and up into the Northern Territory,” A/Professor Marshall said.

“This move has been meticulously planned to ensure these vulnerable babies are monitored at all times.

“They will be moving into a unit that has been designed specifically for the needs of sick and premature babies, with a special emphasis on provision of space and privacy to allow families to bond with and actively contribute to their baby’s care.

“Since FMC opened in the 1970s, there have been very substantial improvements in the care of neonates and we are thrilled to be moving these precious babies into the most technologically advanced unit in SA.

FMC is currently the only hospital across South Australia and the Northern Territory to house both a neonatal intensive care unit and a full range of adult surgical and medical specialities, including adult intensive care.

The opening of the new neonatal unit is part of a staged redevelopment. The final works incorporating overnight accommodation space, family rooms, a staff area and an additional 12 special care beds are expected to be complete in October 2018.


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