NICU Standard 8: Couplet Care Rooms

When a room is provided in the NICU, postpartum, or LDRP Unit that allows a hospitalized mother and NICU patient to be care for in the same room, the room shall have the following:

  • Couplet Care Room in the NICU or Postpartum Unit: Minimum clear floor area of 150 square feet (14 square meters) for the NICU infant and 150 square feet for the mother.
  • LDRP Room: 405 square feet 37.6 square meters) for combined mother and NICU patient.
  • Minimum clearances shall be provided as follows:
    • Postpartum patient rooms: 4 feet (1.2 meters) at the foot of the bed.
    • NICU Couplet Care Rooms: 1 foot (0.3 meters) at the head of the bed to the wall, 4 feet from the foot of the bed to the wall or other obstruction, and 8 feet (2.4 meters) between beds.
    • LDRP Clearances: Six feet (1.8 meters) at the foot of the bed, 5 feet (1.5 meters) on the transfer side of the bed to a wall or fixed obstruction, and 4 feet on the non-transfer side.
  • Family and staff space shall be provided as specified in Standard 7 (Single-Family rooms).  
  • Each patient room with a hospitalized adult patient shall be provided with natural light by means of a window to the outside. In new construction, windowsill height in the patient rooms shall be a maximum of 36 inches (0.9 meters) above the finished floor.
  • Each patient room with a hospitalized adult patient shall have direct access to an enclosed toilet room with a shower and handwashing station.
  • There shall be a handwashing station in the patient room in addition to that in the toilet room.
  • Each patient room shall have a separate lockable wardrobe, closet, or locker suitable for garments and for storing personal effects.

Interpretation: Infants born with medical problems have historically been separated from their mothers after birth. This model provides integrated hospitalized mother and neonate care. The benefits include early maternal attachment, skin-to-skin care, access to breast milk, and participation in care, among others.

This model provides a platform for staff to consider the interdependent needs of the mother and infant(s) as a couplet in addition to each patient’s individual needs. The Standard maintains the square feet for each patient type with a neutral impact on minimum space and clearances.

Other facility considerations include providing access to clean supply, linen, medication, and equipment storage for both adult and neonatal patients.

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