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Looking into the neonatal isolette
  1. Michael van Manen
  1. John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michael van Manen, John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre, 5-16 University Terrace, 8303 – 112 Street, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2T4, Canada; michaelv{at}

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In my everyday professional life, I encounter the medical isolette as a structural unit that houses a single sick or premature child within an acrylic glass enclosure. The unit is designed so as to incubate the developing child by providing warmth, quiet, humidity and security. Small openings allow wires or tubes to hook up the child to technological instruments, monitors and specialised medicine dispensers. Larger portholes allow limited access for the hands of those who take care of the child. The baby is enclosed in a dwelling place in the sense that an isolette may be regarded as the child's bedroom. But it is a place of limited room, for no …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.