The birth of a baby is a wonderful, yet very complex process, involving many physical and emotional changes for both mother and baby. Although most pregnancies end in uneventful births, some might lead to newborns requiring care in a NICU. Giving birth to an ill or premature baby can be a traumatic experience for parents, and it can be overwhelming to spend so much time in an NICU.
Most infants admitted to the NICU are preterm (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or have a health condition that needs special care, and many of these infants are born underweight as well. Twins, triplets, and other multiple births often are admitted to the NICU as they tend to be born earlier and smaller compared to single-birth infants. Infants with health conditions such as respiratory problems, heart problems, infections, or birth defects are also cared for in the NICU.
Of the 170,000 births that occur in Israel every year, 10% are premature and/or require intensive care treatment. With over 12,000 births annually, Sheba is one of the leading centers in Israel for treating complex pregnancies and births, caring for over 1,000 premature or sick newborns in its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit each year.
Premature infants often suffer from short- and long-term complications and are at greater risk of physical and motor disorders, as well as cognitive, social-emotional, speech-language, and other issues that can affect them for their entire lives.
At Sheba, we understand that what these infants and their families need most is hope for a healthy, happy life. Compelled by a commitment to ‘Hope Without Boundaries,’ we see it as our duty to give our infants every chance through the best possible care.
The Future of Our Infant Patients Requires Major Changes
The current Neonatal Department was designed almost 3 decades ago and is inadequate for the present needs and standards of neonatal intensive care.
Over the years, the number of births at Sheba Medical Center has doubled and the number of high-risk pregnancies and multiple births has also increased considerably. Maintaining the high standard of care Sheba is committed to providing is now, unfortunately, very challenging. As such, it becomes clear that Sheba’s needs warrant immediate action.
The New NICU: Comprehensive, High-Quality Care For Our Premature Infants
The new neonatal department will be comprise 3 wings, specially designed and equipped for optimal care of critically ill infants, built to the highest level of safety, and geared to create a pleasant, comfortable, stress-free environment for infants and their parents. To facilitate the construction of the new facility while ensuring continuity of care for infants, the new 3,700 sqm Neonatal Intensive Care Unit will be built in three phases:
- NICU: Intended for critically ill newborns, this unit will house both single and twin rooms, allowing for sophisticated medical equipment while enabling parents to stay by their babies at all times.
- Stepdown: Dedicated to infants requiring special medical care such as phototherapy for jaundice, intravenous treatment, and antibiotic therapies.
- Growing: Following discharge from the NICU, the growth and progress of preterm infant are monitored until they are discharged home at around 2 kg and 36 weeks corrected gestational age. Concurrently, parents are provided instruction, guidance, and support for the transition from the hospital to the home environment.
At Sheba, our entire staff recognizes and values the vital role families play in the care of their newborns. As we strongly believe in family-integrated care, and in the numerous benefits of parental involvement. The new unit will be designed to provide the support and encouragement parents need to be involved in their child’s care.
We understand that having an infant in the ICU is an emotionally challenging time for parents and families, and are here to help you through your NICU experience – making it as positive as possible for our patients and their families.
Complementing care, Sheba’s NICU strives to constantly improve the outcomes of patients, locally and globally, through involvement in the latest research and close collaboration with the renowned Weizmann Institute of Science.
Construction of the New NICU Is Currently Pending
We aspire to have a fully equipped, active unit by the end of 2023. To realize this urgent mission, we will need a budget of $20m, that will enable us to open the new 3,700 sqm facility encompassing:
- A 28-bed stepdown unit
- A 24-bed NICU
- A 12-bed growth and development unit
Sheba’s NICU is one of the largest in Israel, and serves as the main referral center for intricate and complicated cases that require expert medical and surgical care, including babies born with congenital heart disease, gastrointestinal and brain malformations, metabolic disorders and more. Sheba’s world-class physicians employ cutting-edge technologies to offer each and every patient, including the youngest and most vulnerable, the best possible care.
With your help, the new department will allow us to ensure that top-quality care can be continually provided to hundreds of infants, significantly impacting their future by giving them a better start, and a greater chance of leading a long and fulfilling life.