The neonatal unit has 17 inpatient beds at Palmerston North Hospital and provides neonatal intensive and special care to preterm and unwell full term babies.
How the Neonatal Unit Works
Important guidelines for you and your visitors while your baby is in the neonatal unit.
Visitors are welcome - it is your choice who you bring in to see your baby. However, if you are not in the unit, visitors will not be admitted to the Neonatal Unit (NNU). Newborn babies, especially premature babies, are prone to infection, particularly respiratory infections. Therefore the only children who can visit are brothers and sisters of the baby. Other well children over 12 years of age are allowed. Special circumstances can be discussed with nursing staff. If you have a cough or cold, please ask nursing staff for a mask. Visiting hours for other than immediate family are 12 midday – 8pm. Siblings of babies in the Neonatal Unit must be supervised at all times. If the parent is involved with the care of the baby then another adult needs to supervise the child/children.
While in the Neonatal Unit a team of doctors will be involved in the care of your baby. Nurses and Paediatric Resident Doctors look after the day-to-day running of the unit seeing each baby every day, managing their care and discussing care with a Specialist Paediatrician when appropriate. A designated Specialist Paediatrician will take overall responsibility and is available for you to discuss your baby. We encourage and expect parental involvement in clinical decisions and care plans.
The nurses work three shifts. Each shift a nurse is assigned to you and your baby. They will introduce themselves to you, and together you can discuss the care for your baby during that shift. Small and unwell babies need a lot of rest, so your baby’s care plan will allow for lots of rest between feeds. Each baby is allocated a Primary and Associate Nurse where possible. These are the nurses who will plan your baby’s care with you.
A video entitled "Cue Cares" is available for you and your family to watch in the unit. The video explains and demonstrates handling and care of premature babies, as well as ‘Kangaroo Cares’ which you are welcome to do. We also have a variety of books for you to read. Please ask your baby’s nurse if interested.
It can be upsetting for parents to have strangers looking at their babies. Please look only at your baby in the unit. Please tell your visitors to respect privacy for other babies. We are not able to give you or your visitors any information on other babies.
Breastfeeding is sometimes difficult both for yourself and for other mums. It can be distracting if you have visitors while you are feeding - your visitors are welcome to wait in the lounge or your room.
The NNU is locked at all times. Please ring the bell and use the intercom to communicate with staff (you need to press the button on the intercom to speak with staff) and they will be happy to open the door for you. The bell will ring inside the unit and the staff will be able to see you on their security monitor and will let you in.
When your baby is almost ready for discharge, you may like to spend a few nights in hospital to establish feeding and mothercraft skills. There are bedrooms in the NNU for mums to room in with their baby.
Rooms and facilities are free to mothers;
- Meals are provided for Boarder Mothers only by use of vouchers from the NNU (please ask your nurse). These are to be presented at the Hospital Cafeteria.
- There are no cooking facilities available for parents
Other family members may purchase a meal at the public cafeteria
- A toilet for visitors is in the waiting area next to Reception
- There are no facilities for fathers or other children to stay in Boarder Mothers Room.
- Fathers may stay in exceptional circumstances only
There is a phone in the unit (by the watercooler) for incoming calls only, and only mothers are expected to answer this telephone. For any outgoing call, please use the card phone in the waiting area by reception. We have a direct phone line for parents to ring into the Unit to talk to nursing staff: 350 8420. Phones in the nurses station are for staff only. If you need to use a NNU phone in an emergency, please ask first. We advise you nominate a family member to liaise with other friends and family about your baby as staff are only permitted to give out information to parents.
To prevent the spread of infection, it is important to wash your hands every time you enter the unit and before attending to your baby. Please ask your visitors to wash their hands too. There is a wash basin just inside the entrance to the neonatal unit.
Please do not bring more than one toy per baby. Any toys brought to the unit must be washable for infection control purposes.
A Social Worker is available on request - ask your baby’s nurse to arrange an appointment for you. They are able to provide support and information on community and financial assistance.
On discharge follow-up will be arranged, as required, with your LMC(Lead Maternity Carer), GP (General Practitioner), well child provider, paediatrician or children’s homecare team. Please make sure you have a copy of your baby’s discharge letter to take home with you.