WEYMOUTH, Mass. — Jeannie and Jeremy Angelos love spending quality family time with their two little boys inside their Whitman home.
“Our firstborn, Ethan, was 4 pounds, 3 ounces and our second son, Tyler, was 4 pounds 2 ounces,” said mom, Jeannie Angelos.
Three-year-old Ethan and his brother, Tyler, who was born in October, were both preemie babies.
“It’s so hard not to focus on the monitors because you’re watching for dips and heart rate. You’re watching for dips in oxygen levels,” said their father, Jeremy Angelos.
But a new program just launched at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth is helping ease the anxiety felt by many parents of the nearly 400 NICU babies born there each year, like the Angelos. It’s called the Family Integrated Care Program, or FICare.
It was designed by Dr. Zuzanna Kubicka, a neonatologist at South Shore Hospital. She said it gives parents a more hands-on approach in their baby’s care.
“I think it’s a game-changer for parents. In a nutshell, this is bringing the parents in to be part of the NICU team rather than the traditional approach where the parents are visitors,” Dr. Kubicka said.
The Angelos’ were taught how to change Tyler’s diaper and check his temperature, which is a complicated process due to tubes and wires. But they also learned how to check Tyler’s feeding tube, vital signs and give oral medications, so there was less anxiety when they finally brought Tyler home after five weeks in the NICU.
Parents are also included in daily rounds, in-person or virtually, to help make plans regarding their baby’s care. There’s also a mobile app for parents, that way they don’t have to worry about walking into the NICU to find that something had changed that they didn’t know about. Everything is at their fingertips.