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Neonatal Unit at Flinders Medical Centre

The new purpose-built Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) Neonatal Unit facility was completed in December 2018, providing 50 cots in a healing and supportive environment for families with premature babies.

The $17.5 million upgrade includes 50 cots, family rooms, overnight accommodation space for families, admission assessment bay for newborn infants with difficult transition shortly after birth, isolation rooms, staff area and a simulation clinical space for clinicians to train in resuscitation and critical care.

The Neonatal Unit puts the needs of our tiniest patients and their families centre stage. The private spaces provide a family friendly environment for parents to better bond with their baby, empowering them as primary caregivers. This is further enhanced by the purpose built overnight accommodation space so that families can stay close to their babies and the support given to families in preparing for discharge.

Background

Flinders Medical Centre is the only hospital in South Australia and the Northern Territory capable of providing healthcare for critically ill pregnant women and their sick and/or preterm infant. It has a full range of adult subspecialty services as well as a vibrant maternal-fetal medicine service. Approximately 60 pregnant women are admitted to the adult intensive care unit each year.

The FMC Neonatal Unit is one of only two Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) in South Australia, and is recognised nationally as an innovative, high quality service with a significant research profile. FMC is also a leader in the development of neonatal specific information systems.  

The FMC Neonatal Unit has two main areas:

  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • Special Care Nursery

Each year approximately 1,250 babies are admitted to the Neonatal Unit, with about 250 requiring intensive care.

Today, babies born at 23 weeks gestation are offered intensive care, with approximately 70% expected to survive.  

The unit provides a full range of services for babies up to a month after going home. About two thirds of the babies admitted are preterm and about a third are mature term infants with an illness. 

Neonatal Intensive Care

There are 16 intensive care beds, including four beds set up for isolation to allow babies with a potentially contagious infection to be treated without endangering other infants.

Babies admitted to these beds are critically ill or very premature and require breathing support, close monitoring or intravenous feeding.

Most babies born at less than 32 weeks gestation (8 weeks early), and babies recovering from major surgery, require a period of intensive care. Approximately 250 babies are admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit annually. The majority of these are premature babies, with one third being born at less than 32 weeks gestation.

Special Care Nursery

This unit has a total of 34 beds, including:

  • A 10 bed high dependency area which cares for babies who require care just short of intensive care. Some are convalescing following admission to intensive care. Two beds are set up for isolation, to allow babies with a potentially contagious infection to be treated without endangering other infants.
  • 24 special care beds 

The Special Care Nursery provides incubator care, phototherapy, oxygen, and intravenous drip or tube feeding. Some of the babies cared for in the special care nursey have spent time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Approximately 65% of babies admitted to the Special Care Nursery are born close to their due date and require only a few days of care.

Neonatal Outreach Service

Our outreach service provides nursing care and support within the home setting and is offered to all families within a geographic catchment area of 25 kilometers. For many families it’s a single home visit to ensure safe transition to home, but for some it is much more extensive and may extend over several weeks.

This service also provides home gavage feeding for healthy preterm babies so they can be discharged home in the care of their parents earlier.

This outreach service is staffed by a group of experienced neonatal nurses, who work in collaboration with FMC neonatologists.

Long Term Follow Up

FMC provides a multidisciplinary long term follow up program for:

  • Infants born less than 32 weeks gestation or birth weight less than 1500g
  • Term babies with hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy

Babies born less than 28 weeks gestation or 1000g birthweight are part of the program until they are 8 years old.

Teaching and research

The Neonatal Unit prides itself on providing an active learning environment for undergraduate and postgraduate students. FMC is accredited by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians for paediatric basic physician training and the neonatal service is accredited for advanced training in neonatal perinatal medicine.

As an adjunct to advanced training in neonatal perinatal medicine, Dr Sanjay Sinhal provides an active program of training in neonatal ultrasound.

FMC is affiliated and integrated with Flinders University for teaching medical, nursing and midwifery students.

The unit is actively involved in a number of multicentre research studies, with it’s a major research focus in the following areas:

  • Thermoregulation and energy balance
  • Echocardiographic and intravascular assessment of the preterm circulation
  • Long term follow up
  • Electronic health record

Contact details

Telephone: (08) 8204 4595
Email: HealthFMCWardNNUClerk@sa.gov.au

Clinics

Baby Clinic at Flinders Medical Centre

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