Aug 14 2014

Rush University Medical Center NICU Hosts Vermont-Oxford Homeroom Visit

On July 28, 2014, approximately 60 neonatologists, nurses, dietitians and NICU parents from 10 NICUs throughout the United States arrived at the Rush University NICU as a part of the Vermont-Oxford Collaborative Homeroom Project, "Optimizing Nutrition and Minimizing Necrotizing Enterocolitis".  This virtual homeroom project is a 2-year initiative within the Vermont-Oxford Network (VON) for which participating NICUs work collaboratively to achieve specific objectives within the overall objectives of improving nutrition while simultaneously reducing the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).  Expert faculty members for the Homeroom project are Dr. Richard Ehrenkranz (Yale University) and Dr. Paula Meier (Rush University); Jen Clark is the parent representative, Patricia Heinrich serves as the quality expert and Mike Frace is the homeroom's VON representative.  Dr. Jean Silvestri, Clinical Director of Neonatology at RUMC, served as the onsite coordinator for this homeroom visit.

 Two of the potentially better practices for optimizing nutrition and minimizing NEC involve the use of mothers' own milk for VLBW infants.  To this end, a part of the onsite visit involved a visit to the new Rush NICU so that participants could "follow the milk", a guided tour that highlighted the Rush NICU's state of the art industrial freezers, hospital grade electric breast pumps and milk warmers in each patient room, new evidence-based "Conserve Human Milk" storage guidelines.  The tour ended with one of the NICU mothers demonstrating the use of test-weighing to measure milk intake in her premature twins during breastfeeding.  Other "hands on" learning activities featured performing creamatocrit measures to determine the caloric content of human milk, proper breast shield fitting and use of milk volume monitoring techniques (My Mom Pumps for Me!  milk logs and the Coming to Volume Assessment Tool).  The Rush Mothers' Milk Club breastfeeding peer counselors presented their personal stories and described their practice as direct lactation care providers in the NICU and Dr. Beverly Rossman summarized her research on the breastfeeding peer counselor role in the Rush NICU.  Six former NICU parents spoke to the participants about the importance of the weekly Mothers' Milk Club luncheons and access to breastfeeding peer counselors.   

Other features of the visit included a focus on nutrition strategies facilitated by Dr. Richard Ehrenkranz and Dr. Aloka Patel.  Each of the 10 teams presented their personal priorities within the broader set of homeroom objectives.  Collaborative interchange was a highlight of the meeting, with the teams offering suggestions, liaisons, and support for challenges experienced by their colleagues.  

Rush BPCs and Parent Volunteers

Pictured left to right: Katie McGee, RN,IBCLC, Krystle Ekhoff, IBCLC, Natasha Beauchamp BPC, Esmeralda Covarrubias, BPC, Tawanda Stange, BPC parent volunteer, John Bridges BPC parent volunteer, Paula Meier, PhD, RN, FAAN , Marquita Turner, BPC parent volunteer, Tanisha Hill, BPC parent volunteer, Beverly Rossman, PhD, RN, Nicole Cavalea, BPC parent volunteer, Amy Guerra, BPC parent volunteer