Neonatal Nurses Symposium Reinforces Specialised Care

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Chief Hospital Administrator at the Princess Margaret Hospital Coralee Adderley speaks at a Neonatal Nurses Symposium, on Wednesday, December 5, 2007, at the Police Conference Centre, East Street.  The event was an opportunity for healthcare stakeholders to share experiences on some of the new techniques related to the care and management of premature and critically ill babies.  (Photo: Eric Rose)

By: Matt Maura

NASSAU, The Bahamas — Neonatal Nurses from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) of the Princess Margaret Hospital met Wednesday, December 5, 2007, with nurses employed in other baby care areas to share experiences on some of the new techniques related to the care and management of premature and critically ill babies.

The discussions centred on key areas such as Pre-maturity, which focused on the physiological development of a pre-mature baby and the care it receives while in the NICU; Neonatal Parenteral Nutrition, Developmental Care of the Neonate, or premature baby, Code Management and Conflict Management.

Event Coordinator Nurse Leah Patton, RN, said the symposium provided the nurses with an opportunity to highlight and discuss some of the new measures and procedures in managing many of the issues involving the specialised care of babies, some of which could become critical in the care of their infant patients.

Most of the presenters for the symposium were selected from among specialised nurses who have received advanced training in Neonatal Care at the Mt. Sinai Hospital and the George Brown University, Toronto, Canada.

“Our purpose here today is to showcase some of the refined care that is provided for the type of babies that are admitted to our Unit,” Nurse Patton said. “We have the most advanced Unit in the region and as many as 15 of our Nurses have been trained in Neonatal Care through the George Brown University and at the Mt. Sinai Hospital and so the symposium provided us with an opportunity to transpose some of that knowledge to our healthcare population, especially those Nurses from the Private Surgical Ward, the Maternity Ward and the Department of Public Health, who work with babies.”

Nurse Patton said the NICU and SCBU have “made a number of advancements” in the science of Neonatal Nursing since 1997.  She said that Neonatal Care has gone through a “revolution” because many changes have taken place. Neonatal Nurses in The Bahamas, she said, have been able to keep pace with those changes.

She said staff at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Special Care Baby Unit, are among the more highly trained in the region as a result of having participated in the training courses in Toronto, among other training they have received.

Nurses who attend the training course in Toronto, Nurse Patton said, get the opportunity to enhance their skills in an “extremely advanced” Unit such as the one in The Bahamas. Two nurses are presently in Toronto undergoing similar experiences.

“The facility in Toronto is an excellent one and the experience was an eye opener for us because we were able to measure where we are at as NICU and SCBU nurses and it was good to know that our nurses have comparable skills and knowledge base as those in the countries who hold First-World status, considering the fact that we are a Developing Nation,” Nurse Patton said.

“Some of the machinery and equipment are a bit more advanced; but that is expected because those things are funded by private organizations and the hospital receives a lot of donations (and so) I would like to take this opportunity to encourage corporate Bahamas to buy into what we are doing in both Units because private support is critical to achieving an even higher success rate than we are accomplishing now,” Nurse Patton added.

Mrs. Patton said the theme of the symposium: “Dare To Care” was “especially selected” to remind all members of the nursing profession that they must always “dare to care.”

“Dare to Care means that I am willing to go beyond the call of duty and out of the scope of my eight-hour work function and out of the scope of how much I am paid,” Nurse Patton said.

“It means going beyond the borders of New Providence; it means going on a flight to Cat Island or Long Island or anywhere else in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas as a matter of fact, or getting on a boat in Bimini at 2 or 3 o-clock in the morning to sustain a life. Wherever a premature or critically-ill baby is born, we are called in to manage that case and we are quite happy to respond whenever that call is made,” Nurse Patton added.

Nurse Patton said the “biggest challenge” for Nurses working in the NICU and SCBU are the premature babies, or preemies, that are born weighing between 1-3 pounds. Of that group, the micro preemies – those babies weighing one-pound at birth and who are able to fit comfortably in the palm of their caregiver’s hand – call for greater care and case management.

“It is a miracle when you see a one-pound baby arrive at a milestone of 6 pounds and then you see them a few years later in pre-school doing extremely well, full of energy, full of life,” Mrs. Patton said.

“You cannot express the gratification and satisfaction you feel as a Neonatal Nurse when this occurs, especially if you managed that child’s case from the very beginning. It’s so rewarding when you see them make it (and) brings tears to your eyes when you start to wonder if they would have survived their pre-maturity if the kind of facilities and nursing care and management that are available, were not available to them,” Nurse Patton added.