Gainesville, FL– The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at North Florida Regional Medical Center (NFRMC) announces the arrival of a program dedicated to providing information, comfort and support to help families cope with the emotional experience that often follows the arrival of a sick baby.  The March of Dimes NICU Family Support® program is now in place in the NICU and is an extension of a strong relationship between the two organizations.

“Having a child born who comes into the world sick with conditions that threaten the baby’s health is one of the most stressful experiences any parent will ever face,” says Deborrah Furse, RN, Director of the NICU at North Florida Regional Medical Center. “Bringing March of Dimes NICU Family Support into our NICU is so powerful. We know it will make a huge difference to the families of the babies we are honored to care for.”

One in every 10 babies born in the U.S. is admitted to a NICU after being born too soon, too small, with a birth defect or other medical condition.  The NICU experience can be confusing and traumatic for families who must adjust to the uncertainty sick babies bring.  The family support program provides information and comfort to families, professional development for hospital staff and coordinates family-centered care in neonatal settings.

Through the program, parents with a baby in North Florida Regional’s NICU have access to high quality educational materials both in print and online. These materials are designed just for NICU families; they explain the role of staff, equipment and procedures babies may need while in the NICU – as well as how to care for babies while in the hospital and then through the transition home.  Through the online Share Your Story website, families can get support from other families, too. The hospital website also has a page dedicated to NICU Family Support provided by the March of Dimes.

“NICU Family Support is a wonderful opportunity for our NICU to enhance the care we provide,” adds Julie Samples, RN and Assistant Chief Nursing Officer at NFRMC.  “The program increases parents’ confidence and gives NICU staff the tools they need to support families and babies. This is yet another example of the value of our strong relationship with the March of Dimes. Through our partnership with the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program, we can help these families and empower parents.” 

The March of Dimes NICU Family Support® program has more than 10 years of experience providing information and comfort to families while their babies are hospitalized and during the transition home.  The program is available at more than 120 hospitals.