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Parental Presence in the NICU across Canada: restrictions, evidence and recommendations

Updated: Jun 16, 2021


During the initial response to the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic, hospitals attempted to limit viral spread by restricting access to all but essential staff of inpatient areas. The importance of supporting parental caregiving in neonatal intensive care units was not given separate consideration. This response to the pandemic resulted in significant changes in neonatal unit policies and restricted parents’ access and participation in their baby's care. Breastfeeding, parent-infant bonding, parent participation in caregiving, parent mental health and staff stress were negatively impacted by these policies. In this presentation, we will discuss the results of a systematic review done by the International Family Integrated Care committee, on the published evidence of the safety of maintaining family integrated care practices and the effects of restricting parental participation in neonatal care during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Additionally, we will present the results of a national survey of Canadian parents of infants requiring neonatal care during pandemic restrictions that details the adverse effects of the hospital policies on the delivery of care and the outcomes of babies, families and staff. Recommendations for standardized pandemic response planning aimed to restore essential family integrated care practices will be discussed. Learning Objectives: 1- Summarize what is known about the impact of the pandemic hospital policies on Canadian families of infants in the NICU. 2- Examine the evidence-based recommendations presented by the International Family Integrated care steering committee on how best to support parents of infants in the NICU during the pandemic. 3- Develop plans to evaluate their own NICU policies in light of the information provided

Social Media Hashtags: #ZeroSeparation #PreemiePowerCanada



Dr. Marsha Campbell-Yeo, a neonatal nurse practitioner and clinician scientist, is a Full Professor at the School of Nursing, Faculty of Health, Dalhousie University and holds cross appointments in the Department of Pediatrics, and Psychology and Neuroscience. Her Canada Foundation of Innovation funded research lab, MOM-LINC (Mechanisms, Outcome and Mobilization of Maternally-Led Interventions to Improve Newborn Care) is located at the IWK Health Centre. She primarily holds grants examining maternally-led interventions to improve outcomes of medically at-risk newborns specifically related to pain, stress and neurodevelopment as well as novel knowledge synthesis and dissemination methods, and digital e-heath interventions aimed at enhancing parental engagement.

She has been recognized for her contributions to the field via numerous training, leadership, and research awards. Most notably, she was invited as a member of the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, the recipient of the Inaugural Dalhousie University President’s Award for research excellence, was named one of 150 Nurses championing innovation in health for Canada by the Canadian Nurses Association to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation, a Canadian Institute of Health Research New Investigator Awardee, the Canadian Pain Society 2015 Early Career Awardee, and a Career Development Awardee of the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program. She is the current Treasurer and a Council Member of the Pain in Childhood Special Interest Group of the International Society for the Study of Pain, the past Secretary of the Canadian Pain Society Board of Directors and is an Executive member of the Council of International Neonatal Nurses. @DrMCampbellYeo Fabiana Bacchini is the Executive Director of the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation, CPBF. She is a journalist and the published author of From Surviving to Thriving, a Mother’s Journey Through Infertility, Loss and Miracles. While in the NICU with her surviving twin, born extremely preterm, she participated in the study of Family Integrated Care (FICare). This led her to the extensive volunteering in the NICU at Mount Sinai Hospital and to become an ambassador for FICare, travelling across Canada and internationally to share her experience with this model of care. Her son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy which continued to empower her to be a strong voice and advocate for premature babies and their families. Currently, Fabiana serves as an advisor on the International Steering Committee for FICare, Child-Bright Network, PREMSTEM, and she is also on the advisory board of the Canadian Institute for Health Research, CIHR- IHDCYH. Fabiana received the EFCNI awards for her outstanding work with her organization in Canada in 2020. @FabianaBacchini Dr. Karel O’Brien is a staff neonatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital and Associate Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. She is a clinical teacher and neonatologist at a very busy perinatal center that specializes in fetal diagnosis and therapy and also works in the follow up clinic. She has trained in Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research. Her current research has focused on the development of Family Integrated Care, a model that changes how we deliver care to families and their infants in the NICU, and she has recently completed an international trial of this model of care. Going forward Karel is passionate about the importance of including families in the care of their infants, and investigating how best to support the entire team, nurses, physicians and parents to provide this care in away that improves staff, family and infant outcomes. Her motto is “Be the change you wish to see”. @Karel_OBrien

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