March of Dimes
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) was the first NICU in the state of Maryland to provide the March of Dimes' NICU Family Support program to families. Launched two years ago, the program is built on a philosophy of family-centered care and addresses the needs of parents, siblings, grandparents and extended family throughout the hospitalization, during the transition to home and in the event of a newborn death.
We are here to support you and your family
The program is created and run by a volunteer committee, consisting of graduate NICU families and NICU staff, and a part-time NICU Family Support Specialist, who works in the NICU supporting families. There are five additional, specially trained parent-to-parent support volunteers, all former NICU mothers, who also provide bedside support. Every Thursday evening, the specialist holds family pizza night in the rounds room and has either an educational topic hour, such as NICU 101, Coping as a NICU Grandparent, Free Resources Available to NICU Families After the Transition Home, etc. or scrapbooking and craft night, where families can make a keepsake frame or work on their baby book using special NICU-focused scrapbooking materials.
We provide resources
NICU Family Support provides every family with a Parent Care Kit, which contains sensitive educational materials that introduce parents to the staff, equipment, procedures and conditions they may encounter in the NICU. MedStar Franklin Square's NICU Family Support program runs three programs (or "modules") for families: Photography, Transitions and Extended Family Empowerment. The Photography module aims to break down barriers between family and child through the use of photography, and includes activities such as giving each family a disposable camera on admission and bringing in a professional photographer to photograph babies free of charge every month. The Transitions module addresses the informational and emotional needs of families while their child is transitioning, particularly to another hospital, but also to home. Extended Family Empowerment addresses the informational and emotional needs of all family members in the NICU; empowering them to participate in baby's care and advocate for their baby, and allowing all family members to participate as a member of baby's healthcare team.
We support NICU staff members
NICU Family Support also has a professional development component, which brings family-centered educational programs to NICU staff members. This year, MedStar Franklin Square's NICU Family Support program hosted "Preemie For a Day," which gave nurses and caregivers a hands-on glimpse into the daily lives and trials of our littlest patients.
Melissa Buchanan joined the March of Dimes MD National Capital Area Chapter in 2010. She completed her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a Master's of Social Work and a Master's of Public Health from the University of Alabama. Melissa has a special interest in maternal and child health organization and policy.
Prior to joining the NICU team at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, Melissa worked as an infant-toddler family specialist for the North Carolina Early Intervention Program and completed an internship with the Children's Hospital of Alabama Cystic Fibrosis Center.
Melissa is dedicated to the March of Dimes mission of improving the health of babies by preventing premature birth, birth defects, and infant mortality.
For more information about the March of Dimes and for information about having a healthy pregnancy, please see www.marchofdimes.com. In addition, the March of Dimes has a website to support NICU families: http://www.shareyourstory.org.