Dr Brendan Murphy: Providing a quiet, dignified space for fragile patients at CUMH

Dr Brendan Murphy, Clinical Lead Neonatology, Cork University Maternity Hospital, talks about the proposed Neonatal Family Sanctum at the hospital, facilitating privacy, compassion and dignity for mothers, babies and families
Dr Brendan Murphy: Providing a quiet, dignified space for fragile patients at CUMH
Sarah O’Keeffe of Ballyvolane, Cork, with her baby son Aaron Cotter pictured with Dr. Brendan Murphy (Consultant Neonatologist) and Margaret O’Driscoll (Clinical Midwife Manager 2) at the Neonatal Unit at CUMH (Cork University Maternity Hospital) at the announcement of a Mother’s Day Lunch on Sunday 22nd March next at Radisson Blu Hotel, Little Island, Cork. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

CORK University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) is the tertiary maternity and neonatal service for mothers, newborns and their families in the Ireland South Women and Infants Directorate, part of the South/ South West Hospital Group.

More than 12,000 babies are born in this Directorate every year, which equates to 1 in 5 of all newborns in Ireland.

The Neonatal Unit (NNU) at CUMH is one of the busiest units in the country, catering for approximately 7,500 births there, and an additional 5,000 per year from the other maternity centres in Kerry, Waterford and South Tipperary.

Approximately 1 in 10 of all babies born will require admission to the specialised neonatal unit in Cork University Maternity Hospital, which cares for approximately 1,300 babies and their families each year.

The importance of holistic and supportive care in a neonatal unit.

While having a baby is usually a time of great joy and happiness, for a small number of families it can be associated with serious, life limiting medical complications for babies. This can then be a unique period in a family’s life, particularly when we are providing ‘end of life’ care at the beginning of life, or caring for babies born early, or those with complex needs.

We wish to ensure that the care we offer these most fragile and vulnerable patients is holistic and supportive, as clinical and technical expertise can only go so far.

Recently a mother, in a thank you card, cited Mother Teresa of Calcutta “It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give but how much love is put in the giving.”

Reaching our goal

To support this goal, the neonatal unit wishes to raise funds, with the help of CUH Charity (Cork University Hospital Charity), for a multifaceted Family Sanctum project to benefit mothers, babies and their families. We need to raise approximately €300K to build two structures, a Family Sanctum and Parents Room.

The Family Sanctum & Parents Room The Sanctum will be a dedicated space within the central garden of CUMH, set aside for parents and their vulnerable babies, enabling them to step outside into a quiet dignified space for a brief supported time, away from, yet close to, the busy clinical critical care environment.

Dr. Brendan Murphy (Consultant Neonatologist) at the Neonatal Unit at CUMH.Pictures Gerard McCarthy
Dr. Brendan Murphy (Consultant Neonatologist) at the Neonatal Unit at CUMH.Pictures Gerard McCarthy

Sharing a small glimpse of nature with their baby, receiving comforting care, seeing the sky in a place of quiet, solace and privacy, creates cherished memories that will last forever.

We feel that a worried or grieving family and their baby should experience privacy, compassion and dignity in the calm area envisaged, separating memories of the hospital and certain rooms from this upsetting time in the hope that, if they return to the hospital in the future, they will be able to look ahead with optimism.

This Sanctum is a very tangible demonstration that care and compassion for new-borns and their families are at the very core of the service provided by everyone in CUMH.

The vision

The entrance to the Neonatal Sanctum will be through a corridor of pillars and will shield those inside from passers-by — only shadows will be visible from the outside. The pillars surrounding the sanctum will be illuminated from the ground, ensuing a glow of light and colour in the garden. The shape of the frosted glass room in the centre blends the CUMH mother and child emblem and the Japanese symbol for the family unit.

Inside, the sanctum will be furnished with seating and soft furnishings to provide a quiet comfortable space for a family to reflect and spend special moments together with their new-born baby.

The Parents Room is designed to be a private area, separate but adjacent to the Neonatal Unit. This is where families can take some time out from the clinical setting during stressful times, perhaps have a cup of tea in a comfortable environment and have some privacy, providing an oasis of calm which is so important for their mental health and wellbeing.

Upcoming fundraiser

Mother’s Day Lunch to kickstart fundraising The CUH Charity is to hold a special Mother’s Day Lunch on Sunday March 22 March at Radisson Blu Hotel, Little Island, Cork, to kickstart the funding for this unique project.

A warm, fun event which will celebrate women, motherhood and their pivotal role in all our lives, we are urging Cork people to come out in their numbers and make this a meaningful and memorable day for a great cause.

Tickets are €65 plus booking fee on www.eventbrite.ie

Or email mary@hopkinscommunications.ie; www.cuhcharity.ie;

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