A holistic approach to enhancing the NICU environment








Delivering a new care model through education and transformation


By Leslie Altimier, DNP, RNC, NE-BC, Philips Healthcare Transformation Services


The neonatal intensive care unit at Mercy Kid’s Hospital in Springfield, Missouri recently increased their bed capacity to support the 3,000 infants delivered annually and added a new space to create partnerships with families. However, the hospital realized that it takes more than a beautiful, calm space for babies to enhance development. There was a strong consensus among co-workers and administration that it was vital for all NICU co-workers “to be on the same page” for a successful transition to single-family rooms and future developmental caregiving.


“We took the opportunity to invite Philips in to talk to us about our behavioral changes, such as how we can impact care at the bedside with the families and how we can change the way that we are interacting with the babies to increase their development later on.”


-Ashlea Cardin, Occupational Therapist, Mercy

Mercy Hospital works with Philips on

Developmental Care initiatives in its NICU

The Philips team provided an analysis of the current state of the NICU department and caregiving activities and helped the Mercy staff identify several short-term and long-term goals to create a NICU environment that is private, family-centric and improves patient care.


“It’s interesting that over the history of neonatal care, the goals have changed quite a bit,” said Cardin. “It’s much more than just about maintaining their physical bodies, now it’s about looking at them as these amazing developmental creatures the day that they’re admitted. Of course, the end goal is to facilitate the family and the infants with supportive care at the bedside and their success at the bedside and then beyond.”

Wee Care program


Philips Wee Care Program is an internationally-recognized quality and process improvement program designed to optimize the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) environment and caregiving practices.The program is based on seven core measures that are essential to supporting premature and sick infants and their families.

Strategic design

Philips uses a unique experience flow mapping methodology to capture and graphically depict the activities and emotions of people in a particular context over time. Our team provides an analysis of the current state of the NICU department (experiential, spatial, and activity workflow) by combining data analysis with stakeholders’ interviews. Working closely with client teams, we help to co-create an innovative and calming NICU environment, design smart workplaces which are operationally-efficient, user-friendly, and adaptive for evolving care practices and enhancing the patient, family, and staff experience.

Alarm & noise management

Part of the Wee Care program is to understand the importance of minimizing noise in the NICU environment to decrease stress and improve sleep. We emphasize the importance of quickly responding to alarms and silencing them. Mercy Kid’s Hospital focused on noise levels as a key area of improvement. “We needed to respond to the alarms much quicker,” stated Cardin. “After the Wee Care Program, our decibel levels now run much closer to AAP guidelines. It’s not just because we have quieter monitors or just because we have a different environment, it’s because of the behavioral change that Wee Care has instilled.”


Dr. Leslie Altimier provides clinical expertise and direction in the development and delivery of strategic consulting related to education within Philips. She has vast experience in the neuroprotective care of premature infants with expertise spanning neonatology, clinical pathways, hospital cost management, and healthcare education, as well as change management and quality improvement in nursing.

Related material  



Wee Care NICU Program Overview

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Experience Flows -Understanding people and their experiences to deliver meaningful innovations

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A strategic approach to alarm and noise management

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