Criteria and Post-Occupancy Tests for an Intensive Care Nursery Built to Protect Infant Sleep and Adult Speech Intelligibility

This paper describes how an Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) (a.k.a. Newborn Intensive Care Unit or NICU) replaces the biologically expected environment of a fetus that is born early. Until fairly recently the built environment of the ICN was modeled after traditional emergency rooms or adult intensive care units. The environment was oriented toward the technological aspects of the work done by the professional staff but not toward the human needs of the staff for accomplishing that work. Because the specialty of neonatology is only 35 years old, the physical space for an ICN was often carved out of existing space in already-crowded hospitals. The resulting default design in the US typically consisted of an open ward of small infant beds crowded together along with adult work areas, storage, and travel paths. Infection was a constant concern and surfaces were, therefore, hard and cleanable. This design seemed reasonable in an era when the equipment was minimal, the infants were believed to be insentient, and the parents were believed to be superfluous to the infant's survival and development. Over time neonatology grew in importance as a hospital service. More beds were added to existing ICN space along with more staff and more and bigger equipment. Also over time the science of developmental neurobiology grew and developmental specialists began to question whether the environment of the ICN itself might be a causative agent in some of the long-term disabilities of preterm infants. During this same time very little attention was paid to the effects of the ICN environment on staff and parents although the noise levels, demanding performance requirements, and high stress make the ICN not unlike other work settings that have been studied.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: CD-ROM
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 757-763
  • Monograph Title: Noise-Con 04. The 2004 National Conference on Noise Control Engineering

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01054358
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Jul 26 2007 11:40AM