Cone Health Women’s & Children’s Center at Moses Cone Hospital is one of the few places in the nation offering couplet care for NICU babies. This means moms recover in the same room with their delicate newborn.
Soon after its first day for patients on Feb. 23, Women’s & Children’s Center hosted its first patients in NICU couplet care on the new Center’s neonatal intensive care floor.
Paul, April and Parker Mattina
“We weren’t prepared for him to be here this soon,” says April Mattina, whose baby boy Parker was due April 15 and arrived Feb. 25. She was confident in Cone Health. “We knew he was going to be in the best care.”
Welcoming baby Parker in February 2020 involved a five-year effort including in vitro fertilization for the Mattinas. Their self-described “whirlwind journey” makes their placement together as a family even more important. “I really like these rooms because he’s right here,” explains April as she watches her son receive nourishment through a feeding tube from the edge of her own hospital bed. “We weren’t going to breastfeed, so we didn’t realize donor breast milk was an option to give him the nutrients he needs. He doesn’t need oxygen, so he’s doing pretty good for 32 weeks,” she says with an upbeat smile.
Paul and April Mattina raved about the care they received throughout the new Center. And “throughout” was practically literal. Paul jokes that he has tried all the rooms and all the beds. That’s because the couple arrived early, were kept for observation, were a part of the Feb. 23 transport from Women’s Hospital to the Women’s & Children’s Center, thought they were being discharged only to have baby boy Parker adjust their plans again. All in all, they experienced two hospitals and five different rooms. “Everyone has been so nice and so reassuring.”
Cone Health has been offering couplet care for nearly a decade. This model of care is often called “rooming in” – where moms and babies recover in the room together. The closeness early on helps regulate baby’s heart rate and temperature and promotes bonding.
Previously NICU stays meant mom and baby were separated to different floors or, in some cities, different hospitals … until now. Now mom and her delicate infant can recover in the same room because of Cone Health’s NICU couplet care.
“We’re the first in North Carolina offering NICU couplet care. We truly believe this is such an important gift we are giving our community,” says Chief Nursing Officer Susan H. Pedaline, DNP, MS, RNC. “It is truly a game-changer for families experiencing an early arrival.”
The couplet care rooms include plenty of space for the birthing partner to stay with the new family and a work station to be able to post social updates on how everyone is doing. “We’ve tried to make a hospital stay be as comfortable as possible for everyone involved.”
Paul Mattina agrees. “Nobody likes to be in the hospital,” he says. “We’ve been pretty comfortable.”