Delivering the Smallest Patients at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital's High-Risk Nursery
Cutting edge technology enables babies born too soon to stay close to home
Premature twins requiring respiratory care. A baby born with Down’s Syndrome. A newborn with a serious infection.
Every day, Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital’s High-Risk Level 2+ Nursery cares for premature babies and other newborns who require short-term hospitalization. The nursery is an advanced, state-of-the-art facility designed for infants that need ventilation or other special care following a premature or high-risk delivery.
“Our Special Care Nursery has a Level 2 with Extended Capabilities designation. With this designation we can provide care for premature babies born 30 weeks gestation and older [term gestation is 40 weeks], stable sick babies and/or babies requiring conventional respiratory support,” says Lynne Keller, Nurse Manager, B.S.N., R.N.C.-L.R.N.
“This is a big advantage for the babies and their families, as many times the baby doesn’t have to be transferred to another hospital to receive the care he or she needs.”
Ensuring a Healthy Start
The goal is to help these infants gain a healthy footing in their new world — close to home, close to their mother and close to some of the area’s best special care nursery nurses and physicians. That’s not only good for the community’s twins and late pre-term babies — a population that’s growing — it’s good for any woman in the area who’s expecting.
According to Wendy Rusinak, Interim Director of Maternity Services, R.N., “We can prepare ahead of time for many of our high-risk deliveries, such as the women who are expecting twins and have been followed by a LFH obstetrician for their prenatal care.”
But, she adds, “As much as women hope and prepare for a smooth birth, surprises and complications sometimes occur — and we have the capabilities to help many of them. Not all community hospitals have these capabilities.”
Serving A Growing Population
Keller agrees. “Like other hospitals, we see a growing number of ‘late pre-term’ babies [infants with 34-37 weeks completed gestation]. In fact, it’s the largest, fastest-growing population of preterm babies in the United States. These babies often need additional respiratory support due to immature lung development,” she says.
“Because we can provide these babies with conventional ventilation for a period of time, we can often avoid transferring the baby to another hospital.”
After working as staff nurse for many years, Keller now ensures that the staff nurses are following current policies, procedures and standards of care. “My role as a manager is to oversee and mentor the nursing staff, work with the physicians and make sure patients are receiving the best care possible. Of course, I still occasionally take care of moms and babies.”
Rusinak and Keller are part of a team that includes the special care nurses, physicians, community pediatricians and hospitalists from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago— in-house pediatricians specially trained to care for sick babies and children. The hospitalists are on staff 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.
“It’s a nice collaboration,” says Keller. “We have wonderful stories of babies who were born too soon or born ill, but because of the special care they received here, they’re now at home with their families and doing very well.”