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Mom of Premature Babies Finds Solace in the NICU
Her comprehension deepened and intensified, however, when she gave birth to her twin sons, Alexander and Noah, 15 weeks prematurely, and their survival relied on the skill of the NICU team.
“Naturally, I was concerned for my babies, but at the same time, I was so grateful they were being cared for at this particular NICU,” James said as she sat on a rocking chair inside the NICU, cradling both of her tiny, blanketed children on her chest. “The doctors and nurses here truly want what’s best for these babies, and they take every precaution to prevent any possible infections.”
The NICU team at Sharp Mary Birch is leading the nation in NICU infection prevention. According to the latest statistics available from Vermont Oxford Network, a nonprofit that collects data on very low birth-weight babies, the NICU at Sharp Mary Birch had an estimated 70 fewer hospital-acquired infections than expected over a period of three years (2006-2008), which places the hospital in the top four centers in the nation for NICU infection prevention.
Shortly after James gave birth, hospital staff did not permit babies’ siblings and extended family members into the NICU because of the threat of H1N1 influenza. And, after Alexander had spent some time outside of the NICU for intestinal surgery, he was isolated from the other babies upon his return, as a precaution.
“It seems that everything staff does here is focused on preventing infection,” James said. “The nurses are always cleaning their hands, and gently reminding me to clean my hands. They wipe down all the surfaces with antibacterial wipes every shift, and they spot-clean. They glove-up and gown-up every time they are going to touch the babies, and if a pacifier falls on the ground, they throw it away and get new one. I used to think that these precautions were a bit extreme, but when your baby is in here, these safety measures become very important. I can honestly say that infection is one thing I don’t worry about here.”
Kerry Schultz, RN, an infection preventionist at Sharp Mary Birch, says infection prevention at the NICU is a team effort.
“We have a team dynamic, and we have good relationships with each other,” Schultz said of the NICU staff. “The whole team is passionate. Our goal is to have zero hospital-acquired infections in our NICU, and everyone I know in the NICU is committed to this goal.”
Alexander and Noah are recovering from various surgeries, and will likely return home soon. After having formed close relationships with the NICU staff, James and her husband say their departure will be bittersweet.
“The nurses here have become like family,” James said. “They have been right here by our side the entire time, helping us and guiding us in caring for our sons, and we won’t forget it.”
For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's pregnancy and childbirth services or to find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego OBGYN or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about pregnancy and childbirth, visit Pregnancy and Childbirth in Adult Health or read the Pregnancy and Childbirth News archive.