Patient tower development has a personal touch

Jason Beshore, lead architect on the NICU, with family

Keenan Beshore’s premature birth in 2010 wasn’t necessarily unexpected after his mother, Holly, experienced complications during her pregnancy. But his severe breathing problems — despite a robust weight of more than 7 pounds — were difficult for his parents to witness and harder still due to tight quarters in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at Inova Loudoun Hospital (ILH).

“The staff was exceptional, but the space constraints made us feel like we were on top of the other parents there,” says Keenan’s dad, Jason Beshore.

In a delightfully ironic twist, Beshore’s perspective as a former NICU parent is encouraging a bevy of improvements being incorporated into ILH’s new NICU and 385,000-square-foot patient tower, due to open in spring 2020. As lead architect and health principal for HDR, the construction firm that was awarded the project, Beshore joins a large contingent of other residents of Loudoun County in a labor of love that will nearly triple the size of the current NICU while adding a host of family-friendly features and amenities.

“Having lived the experience, I felt it was important to offer the hospital choices to provide family members the environment they need to be comfortable,” says Beshore, an Ashburn resident, who is also the father of two other children. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to work on a NICU project that’s in my backyard, in my community.”

Welcome Spaces

ILH has housed the county’s only NICU for more than a decade. The expansion and enhancement of the hospital’s Level IIIA NICU and highly regarded neonatology program is part of ILH’s ongoing $300 million Master Plan improvements. The patient tower will feature a new labor and delivery unit with enhanced neonatal capabilities, all-private patient rooms and a new progressive care unit.

NICU capacity will double from 12 to 24 babies and include 12 private rooms, two twin rooms, and two pods with four isolettes apiece designed for the most fragile patients requiring constant observation, according to Gina Harrison, RN, MSN, Clinical Director of Family-Centered Care & NICU at ILH. In private rooms, “parents will be able to stay overnight with their children if they want to, and that’s a really big deal,” Harrison says.

Other expected amenities are subtler, but no less appreciable. They range from padded floors to keep noise down to glass doors that will transform from clear to opaque with a turn of a knob. Special lighting that aligns with the infants’ circadian rhythm will dim lights automatically in the evening and darken at night, while universal controls for TV, lights and window blinds will come in especially handy when parents are holding sleeping babies.

Also, the new NICU will offer separate rooms for nutrition, meditation and consultations, along with a laundry area and computer workstations to help family members feel at home.

Growing Population Feeds Need

Another major feature of the new NICU will be a “family transition room,” a hotel-like space where parents and infants can spend the night before discharge to test-run their comfort level before taking their baby home.

“Parents can take care of the baby just like they’re home, but the nurses are right down the hall in case they have questions,” says David Goodwin, MD, ILH’s NICU Director. “Nobody plans to have a preterm baby, so we’re trying to make the experience as stress-free as we can.”

“One goal of the new patient tower is to keep Loudoun families in Loudoun County so they are close to home and loved ones. It’s stressful to travel for medical services; we want to reduce stress wherever we can,” Dr. Goodwin adds.

With some 70 percent of the Master Plan construction workers being residents of the ILH area, Harrison says, “I do think a personal touch is being seen in many aspects of this project.”

“I love seeing this specialty NICU grow,” she adds. “We have a very young population in Loudoun County and it’s very fast-growing. Being able to expand our NICU services is right where we need it.”

NICU Not Just for Preemies

With nearly 1 in 10 babies born in the United States arriving early — before 37 weeks of pregnancy — prematurity is the leading reason NICU care is needed, according to the National Institutes of Health.

But many health conditions in newborns can require this highly specialized care, even briefly. They include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Infection
  • Low blood sugar
  • Traumatic delivery
  • Infection/inflammation of the placenta, which places baby at high risk for infection

Help the NICU Grow!

To learn more about the NICU at Inova Loudoun Hospital (ILH) or to contribute to the future NICU through philanthropic opportunities, please contact the ILH Foundation at 703-858-8800.

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