Big Hearts for Little Babies

In March 2016, KGH opened its doors to the most advanced perinatal unit the Southern Interior region and with it, a new ‘home’ for the many doctors and nurses who specialize in perinatal care.

The hospital environment can be overwhelming for a baby who has come from the comfort of his/ her mother.  Studies have shown that family-centered care positively impacts family functioning.  Mothers report increased closeness to their babies, less stress and increased feelings of comfort and parenting confidence.

Shari Schwab, w Giraffe Incubator 576 x 768
Shari Schwab, Perinatal Nurse Educator with the Giraffe Incubator

Donations to the KGH Foundations ‘Giving Giggles’ campaign are working to enhance the standard of medical care that staff are able to provide on the unit through the purchase of life-saving equipment and patient care items.

And for the staff who work on the unit, donor gifts have been almost revolutionary in their ability to deliver family-centered care.

“The changes that have come for our unit have been huge.  The babies and their families have more space and privacy,” notes Sharie Schwab, a Perinatal Nurse Educator at KGH.  “Now we have lots of single rooms, so the exhaustion of patients has decreased and the family togetherness has increased.  Dads are supported at the bedside in postpartum.  Even if the baby is in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), we have the ability to bring a bed for Mom to stay right beside her baby, which is a huge support for both of them.”

Schwab’s counterpart in the NICU, Bonnie Wilkie, agrees.  “As staff nurses, we are very grateful for the support that we get from donors.  When we are requesting equipment, it’s because it makes a difference for babies and families, and therefore for us.  I can tell you that when a family feels safe and cared for, our job is much calmer as well.”

As a neonatologist, Dr. Jill Boulton helps care for babies who are less than 28-days-old and newborns. For more than 30 years, Dr. Boulton has been working in this subspecialty of pediatrics.  “I think the most important change for babies and families is the way that we care for them. It’s so much gentler than it used to be,” explains Dr. Boulton. “We’re acknowledging that, yes we need to ventilate a baby to give them enough oxygen to keep them alive, but while we’re doing that, we’re making sure that they’re very comfortable and in a nested position, trying to recreate the uterus in terms of the baby being very tucked in and calm.”

Each and every day, medical staff at KGH go above and beyond for their tiny patients.

“They are the most amazing people I have ever met,” says Stephanie Garrison, whose son Tanner spent 3 weeks in the NICU at KGH.  “They were happy and smiling and when you’re in a dark place, you need that little bit of light. That little baby is our whole world.  These people impacted our life more then they will ever know.”

Schwab summarizes the sentiment of her colleagues and nurses and doctors that have come before her well.  “We cherish the role we play in a family’s birthing story.  They’re going through one of the most vulnerable experiences, and we get to share that with them, and support them in their journey.”

The new unit is expansive, bright, intelligently organized and, thanks to donors, medically advanced.  This state-of-the art environment not only allows doctors and nurses to do their work more effectively and efficiently, but allows them to give more time and attention to the ‘heart’ of their work – their tiny patients and their families.