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Sharp Health News

Caring for the South Bay’s smallest patients

Aug. 3, 2021

Sharp HealthCare Neonatal nurses Cynthia Hensel and Mae Fianza

Neonatal nurses Cynthia Hensel, RN, and Mae Fianza, RN, care for and monitor babies in Sharp Chula Vista’s NICU until they are healthy and developed enough to safely go home.

While a baby's birth is a wonderful occasion to be celebrated, hearing that your baby must be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for special care can be frightening. Knowing that your fragile newborns are in the safest, most reliable hands can be very comforting.

Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center is the South Bay's largest provider of health care services for women and infants. Their dedicated unit is fully equipped with the highest-quality medical technologies and a full team of compassionate, neonatal support staff who are often Chula Vista residents themselves, caring for their own community.

"The field of neonatology is constantly evolving and changing," says Dr. Shandee Hutson, medical director of Sharp Chula Vista's NICU. "Cutting-edge research gives us new tools and therapies to improve care for the tiniest and most medically complex babies."

In the NICU, there is a sense of community, with a team of highly trained neonatologists, nurses, lactation specialists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, dietitians and social workers all working around the clock. They ensure that families have access to the support they need, and that babies receive the immediate attention they require in order to recover.

"NICU staff are part of an incredibly important and intertwined team," says Dr. Paul Wozniak, medical director of neonatology for Sharp HealthCare. "The team also supports parents, grandparents, siblings and extended families through the baby's hospital course, with all its peaks and valleys. This combination of medical, spiritual and social support contributes to a good outcome for our babies, who are the future of our community and their families."

One family's story
The Finch family found comfort in knowing that Sharp Chula Vista has an entire team of experienced caregivers committed to their newborns' well-being when their babies were admitted to the NICU on two separate occasions.

"My firstborn, Amaya, was in the NICU after being born at 30 weeks and needed to grow into a healthy weight before being discharged," says Rocio Finch. "We received personable care at Sharp Chula Vista and it was so convenient that they are close to home. My son, Oliver, was born at 37 weeks and needed close respiratory attention in the NICU. I felt comfortable knowing I have been in this situation before with their team. Their nurses and staff were like an extension of our family while we were there and even after we left the hospital."


The Finch family with Sharp HealthCare nurse Cynthia Hensel
The Finch family with Cynthia Hensel, RN, holding baby Amaya, in Sharp Chula Vista’s NICU in 2019.

Cynthia Hensel, RN, a neonatal nurse at Sharp Chula Vista and Chula Vista native, formed a special bond with the Finch family as Rocio continued to send photos of their babies' progress.

"I fell in love with the Finch family," Hensel says. "It feels great knowing that I'm able to care for families in my own community and form deep, meaningful relationships with them even after closing this huge chapter in their lives."

While a baby may be admitted to the NICU for different reasons other than preterm birth, Sharp's goal has always remained the same: to release a healthy newborn baby who can function independently.

"Many babies are in the NICU for several months," Dr. Hutson says. "Through months of daily interactions we get to know families and I'm grateful to all of the parents who trust me with the care of their most precious gift. Most rewarding of all is watching a critically ill newborn transition into a healthy, thriving infant ready to go home."

Learn more about women's services at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.

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