Your NICU design - love it or hate it?

by cymruusa cymruusa (New) New

I'm involved in a design committee for our NICU, it's a level III, we're going to have 20 beds and a budget under $5million (not huge)

I'm wondering in general what you love/hate/tolerate about the design of your nicu, photos would be great if you have a link to any.

The head folks want at least some single family rooms with a bed for Mom etc

Ideas??? Inspirations??? Warnings???

Thanks all


Mimi2RN, ASN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 27 years experience. 1,142 Posts

We will be doing the same thing in the next couple of years. I doubt that we will have much say in the plans, as the last new units have been good and bad.

One of our requests won't happen. Windows! The shell (which is already built in a new building) is on the inside, and even if they have individual patient rooms, they won't have windows. We live in a cave, now, and that won't change. We never see daylight unless we go to another unit.

This site has Design Standards for NICU's, and I know there are other websites which may be helpful.


Specializes in NICU. 409 Posts

I can't imagine not having windows!!

Anyway - I like the design of our unit. We have 7 big rooms, each being able to hold 4-9 babies. Your assignment is always all in the same room, so you can see your babies at all times. Sometimes the rooms do get a little noisy with oscillators and alarms, but usually not too bad. A lot of us on my unit agree that we wouldn't like having single patient rooms - too hard to see what's really going on with your babies.

Because we have our assignment all in one room, we do end up moving some babies around to accommodate for admissions / discharges / sick babies. We keep a list of what baby has moved where so that we try not to move the same baby too often. We explain to the parents that their baby might move a few times during their stay - that all the rooms are the same - and that it's so that their baby (and all of the other babies) can receive the best care possible - and that their primary nurses will still take care of them. They're usually pretty understanding of it all.

We do have several pumping rooms and parent rooms. Parents can sign up for these. The parent rooms all have fold out couches for spending the night when their baby is close to going home.

Hope this helps!



Has 2 years experience. 31 Posts

I am pretty new to the NICU scene so I do not know what other NICUs look like, but we have a couple private rooms we use primarily for isolation and bereavement. But who knows, this might be a standard everywhere else! :)


Specializes in Neonatal ICU (Cardiothoracic). Has 9 years experience. 2 Articles; 2,512 Posts

We have a giant 4-hall |__| shaped unit with 3-bed pods lining each side of the hallway. Each pod has a tall desk with 2 high chairs and computers. There is a sink at each pod, and each bedspace within the pod has a tall cabinet and 4 cabinets built into the headwall. The main thoroughfare hall is outside the unit, so it's pretty quiet. We have tall windows in outside-facing pods with shades. There is lighting in each bedspace, drop lights at the desks, and upward deflected lights in the hall.

Each pod has a cabinet with a cart full of supplies. We also have 4 negative-pressure private rooms for isolation.

I like the design, it's pretty quiet, and I like the bright wood panel cabinets, etc. Since we are such a huge unit (32 RNs avg) and it's in a hallway-type shape, it can be difficult to cover breaks and even see half your coworkers. But it's nice to not have to flit between rooms for your assignment. All your babies are generally in the same pod.

We also have 2 lactation rooms with recliners/pumps, a meditation room with a fish tank, and a launchpad suite for babies going home the next day.

IMHO, I would HATE to have private rooms with parents sleeping in every night. Sounds like a potential nightmare.


babyNP., APRN

Specializes in NICU. Has 14 years experience. 1,920 Posts

We have 46 private patient rooms and two pods with four patients each.

There's a reflecting room at the end of the unit where parents can sleep in the recliner chairs and we allow parents to spend the night at the bedside as well, although only maybe 10% actually do (we make sure to tell them that their baby comes first). We also have a lactation room and two parent rooms where baby and parent can room in together so parent can take care of them overnight if they're getting discharge.

I personally love it! There are bright windows in nearly every room to see the sunrise : ). There were some concerns about hearing baby's alarms going off, but we have phones now that ring off when they do. It's so much quieter for baby to not to have to hear all the noise from other kiddos.

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