Texas Children’s recently celebrated the opening of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) E Pod, a newly designated 9-bed infant acute cardiac care unit at West Tower. Since opening on February 22, NICU E Pod has helped to significantly reduce the occurrence of cardiac case cancellations.
“Over the last six months, we were seeing an alarming increase in the cancellation of surgical cases and cath procedures due to a lack of inpatient bed capacity,” said Matt Timmons, director of Cardiology at Texas Children’s Heart Center. “During the last 18 days since the unit opened, we have had no cardiac case cancellations, which is a huge step forward in improving the care and experience we deliver to our patients and families.”
To create additional Heart Center capacity, Texas Children’s physician and nursing leadership teams from the Heart Center, Critical Care and Newborn Center – and many other subspecialties and support services across the organization – collaborated to expedite the successful opening of the new unit.
“We were fortunate to have the NICU E Pod available,” said NICU Nursing Director Heather Cherry. “After meeting with several subspecialty leadership teams, we collectively decided to open the NICU E Pod to provide additional bed capacity for our acute cardiac care patients. This collaborative decision allowed us to support an additional nine patients needing our care.”
Recently, acute care nursing partnered with the Heart Center to successfully add capacity for cardiac patients in the four-bed cohort on 10 West Tower. While this has been extremely helpful, the need for additional capacity still existed. The NICU E Pod provides an extension to 15 West Tower for acute cardiac care patients under 12 months of age. While the cardiology team oversees the treatment of these acute care patients, the NICU E Pod is staffed by the Newborn Center nursing team.
For patient families like Randal and Sabrina Pemberton from Lubbock, Texas, the opening of the unit could not have come at a better time. Since the first day the NICU E Pod opened, they have been with their daughter Aaliyah, who at just 8 days old, had surgery to repair an aorta and two holes in her heart.
“We’ve had a wonderful team of doctors who are taking great care of our daughter and the nurses have been fabulous as well,” Sabrina Pemberton said. “Overall, given our circumstances, it’s been a great experience at Texas Children’s Hospital. We couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Besides collaboration from clinical staff, reaching this milestone so quickly – in a matter of one week – would not have been possible without the help from Texas Children’s support services which included Information Services, Facilities, Epic, Biomed, Supply Chain, Pharmacy and Environmental Services.
“This unit was a great example of collaboration by multiple subspecialties and departments, and shows how we are all “One Texas Children’s Hospital,” said Chief of Cardiology Dr. Daniel J. Penny. “The ability to open this unit so quickly and safely exemplifies our commitment to our patients and their families.”
With Texas Children’s anticipated growth, the Pediatric Tower – which is slated to open in August 2018 – will house 126 beds for pediatric and cardiovascular intensive care patients, which will provide additional bed capacity and even more opportunities to serve our patients and their families in the future.
“The Pediatric Tower is the long-term solution for our Heart Center’s rapid growth,” Timmons said. “The NICU E Pod and the 10 West Tower cardiac cohort are successfully bridging the gap until we move into the new tower.”