The University of Maryland Medical Center has a new Intermediate Care Unit that is part of the Labor and Delivery Unit. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology, the area has been designed to ensure that mothers have a private and comfortable space. The unit opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 31, 2005.
The Intermediate Care Unit (IMC) is for high-risk patients who need close observation but are not ready to deliver. These patients need close observation for maternal and/or fetal problems. "Because of the number of high-risk patients seen here at the University of Maryland Medical Center, we needed to set up a specific area to care for these patients and their unique needs," says Deborah Grau, R.N., M.S., Patient Care Services Manager for Women's Services.
"Sixty to 80 percent of all of our women coming in for evaluation and/or delivery are high risk," Grau says. "We have seven birthing rooms in labor and delivery and with all of the high-risk mothers being referred here, we need this unit. This unit is specifically set up for high-risk moms."
Typically, when a high-risk mother comes in, she needs to be evaluated for 24 to 48 hours, during which time she is closely monitored. She may go on to have her baby; if not she will be transferred to the Mother Baby Unit once she is stable or be discharged home if her condition no longer requires hospitalization
Each of the beds in the IMC is set up with non-invasive blood pressure monitoring, EKG, fetal monitoring, and pulse oximetry. Another unique feature is that all of the monitoring equipment is wired and transmitted to the main labor and delivery suite, so that physicians and other members of the labor and delivery team can monitor the patient's progress at any time. All other members of the high-risk team are also able to continuously monitor both the mother and the baby's progress. If necessary, the IMC is also fully equipped to do a delivery.
In addition, says Janice Lazear R.N., M.N., C.D.E, clinical nurse specialist for Women's Services, "We've attempted to make the IMC as comfortable as possible for our patients, visitors and families." Some amenities include flat-screen televisions, comfortable recliner chairs and walls painted with soothing colors. Cubicles surround each of the beds to provide privacy. "We want to give patients a nice private environment, so their family can be there and support them during this high-risk pregnancy," says Grau.
The IMC is staffed by labor and delivery nurses who are highly experienced in care of high-risk pregnancies. The nurses are also assisted by specially trained Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs).
Joining them is a multidisciplinary team of health care providers designed to meet the needs of all patients. "We have a holistic focus and we care about the patient," says Lazear. "In order to provide comprehensive care to our patients, we have a multidisciplinary team including social workers dietitians, physical therapists, social workers, substance abuse counselors, and case managers."
Besides providing cutting edge technical care, Lazear says staff members also focus on the mother's other needs, providing emotional support, patient education and diversional activities such as books or videos. "We care about the patient and her family and work to help the mother and her family cope with the stresses of hospitalization for a high risk pregnancy," she says.
by Michelle W. Murray