Special Care Nursery (NICU) Provides Specialized Care for our Littlest Patients

September 1, 2016

Special Care for Special Deliveries

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Melanie Bush with daughter Brooklyn and son Brentley

It’s a scene that parents-to-be imagine hundreds of times: the day they welcome their little one into their family and meet their new baby face to face. Sometimes, however, reality is a bit more complicated. When a baby is born early or needs some extra support, the dedicated professionals at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s special care nursery are there to help.

Melanie Bush knows. After a difficult pregnancy, she began having contractions early – at only 34 weeks’ gestation – and labor was progressing rapidly. With one of her twins in breech position, she delivered by emergency cesarean section. Melanie and her husband Benny Bush Jr. welcomed their new son and daughter, Brentley and Brooklyn Bush, at 1:06 and 1:08 a.m. respectively on August 23, 2014. Brentley weighed 5 pounds, 4 ounces at birth, and Brooklyn weighed just 4 pounds, 2 ounces.

Without the full 40 weeks to develop in their mothers’ bodies, babies born early can face a variety of challenges including low birth weight, breathing problems, infections, and vision or hearing loss. About one baby in ten is born prematurely in the United States, and rates have been rising, according to the March of Dimes.

A Special Place

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s special care nursery is a level II neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) that cares for babies born at 32 weeks or later, or who weigh at least 1,500 grams (about 3.3 pounds). The special care nursery is led by a team of on-site neonatologists from MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, who bring their specialized expertise in helping the smallest babies thrive, and has a staff of experienced NICU nurses.

Having an experienced team of doctors and nurses at a location close to home means that new parents can spend more time with their babies while they are still in the hospital. The hospital’s special care nursery is known for maintaining a compassionate, welcoming atmosphere. “Highly specialized expertise, strong nursing skill, and warm, family-centered care is all wrapped up in one big, beautiful package here at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center,” said Mahoganey McCrae, BSN, RN, CPN assistant director of nursing for the special care nursery.

Always Welcome

The Bush twins had ups and downs during the 11 days they stayed in the special care nursery, particularly Brentley, who struggled with breathing and eating. The special care nursery team helped Brentley breathe using several treatments, including a breathing tube and ventilator, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, and supplemental oxygen through a nasal canula. On day 7, his lungs were able to tolerate regular air. 

Because he wasn’t able to eat for over a week, the team gave Brentley the nutrition and hydration he needed through an IV. Phototherapy was used to treat their jaundice. Warm, enclosed incubators called isolettes helped the little twins regulate their body temperatures.

Although there were scary moments, the special care nursing staff were there every step of the way. “Even though I have a healthcare background, I wasn’t thinking like a nurse while I was watching my babies struggle,” Melanie said. “The staff talked to both of us as parents. Everyone was very responsive, and no one rushed us or made us feel unwelcome.”

Encouraged by the special care nursing staff, Melanie and her husband Benny were active participants in caring for their babies, holding them, feeding them, changing their diapers and taking their temperatures.

Melanie also appreciated the neonatologists’ approach. “They were available to answer questions and did a lot of education” to help them care for their new son and daughter. “They were amazing.”

Brentley and Brooklyn are now a pair of active and happy 23-month-old toddlers. Although they don’t remember those first days, their grateful mom and dad will never forget.

Visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/Nursery to learn more about our special care nursery.

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