Families of babies being seen in Women & Infants Hospital’s Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic now have an educational and developmentally appropriate space to promote self-healing through play, thanks to an innovative partnership with the March of Dimes and the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children.
Rhode Island’s first March of Dimes NICU Family Support® Bright Space® for Siblings was unveiled earlier this month to a crowd that included current and former neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) families, administrators, physicians, nurses and community representatives. This Bright Space for NICU Siblings is the first to open in a developmental follow-up clinic in the U.S. in partnership with the March of Dimes.
“Women & Infants Hospital is delighted to partner with the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children and continue our longstanding partnership with the March of Dimes,” said Mark Marcantano, acting president of Women & Infants Hospital. “As a patient and family centered hospital, we are excited to create an enriching learning and play facility for NICU graduates and the siblings and families of some of our most fragile newborn patients.”
Bright Spaces®, the signature program of the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, creates warm, enriching playrooms in organizations that give children and families a special place to gather, relax and have fun. David Lissy, CEO of Bright Horizons Family Solutions, said, “We hope that this space will help maintain a sense of normalcy for siblings and families of babies in the neonatal intensive care unit.”
In addition to providing a gathering place for families, the Bright Space at Women & Infants will offer hope and inspiration. It will have vintage toys and art work, a library, interactive and developmentally appropriate toys, and an art cart.
“Bright Spaces bring hope and comfort to families and children during an especially difficult time – when a baby is in need of neonatal intensive care,” said Betsy Akin, director of the March of Dimes Rhode Island Chapter. “This Bright Space in the developmental follow-up clinic will offer a place where moms and dads can talk, NICU graduates and siblings can play, and where families can simply be together.”
The March of Dimes chose Women & Infants Hospital as one of the eight Bright Spaces for NICU Siblings sites in the US because of their longstanding relationship. March of Dimes NICU Family Support was established at Women & Infants in 2002. It is built on a family-centered philosophy and addresses the needs of parents, siblings and extended family throughout the baby’s hospitalization, during the transition home, and in the event of a newborn death.
Adults pictured from left to right are: Nichole Aguiar, March of Dimes Rhode Island; Dr. Edward McCabe, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, March of Dimes National Office; Dr. Betty Vohr, Medical Director, Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic, Women & Infants Hospital; Mary Ann Tocio, Chief Operating Officer, Bright Horizons Family Solutions; Jennifer Cardullo, Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic, Women & Infants Hospital; and Andrea Halbrook, Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic, Women & Infants Hospital. They are pictured with Isabella, Katie and Sophia Silva – Katie spent three weeks in the Carter Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Women & Infants Hospital in August 2009.