Doctors and nurses commemorate years of caring for hospital’s smallest patients
MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Former premature infants will return to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Loyola University Health System’s (LUHS) neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 20. These patients are among the more than 18,000 infants whom have been cared for by LUHS doctors and nurses since the unit opened its doors in 1987.
Lisa Geiger and her 7-year-old triplets, Andrew, Ava and Elisabeth, will be on hand for the occasion. The Geigers were 4 pounds, 3 ounces; 3 pounds, 10 ounces; and 3 pounds, 13 ounces, respectively, at birth. They are now thriving first-graders who visit the NICU each year on their birthday with donations that family and friends give them in place of birthday gifts.
“We are very grateful for the wonderful care we received from Loyola’s maternal-fetal medicine specialists during my pregnancy and following the birth of our babies in the NICU,” Geiger said. “The doctors and nurses went out of their way to care for our entire family during this difficult time."
Twins Kaitlyn and Christian Gleba also will attend the celebration. They were born at 27 weeks’ gestation and weighed 2 pounds, 4 ounces and 2 pounds, 3 ounces, respectively. The twins are doing well and preparing to turn 9 later this month.
Keagan Morgan also will take part in the celebration. He was born 3 months early and weighed 2 pounds, 11 ounces. He is now a healthy 8-month-old who will celebrate his first birthday on July 3.
These patients will reunite with the doctors and nurses who cared for them. The majority of these caregivers have worked in the NICU for more than two decades. Their patients have included the world’s smallest surviving baby, born at 9.2 ounces in 2004, and more than 3,000 newborns who have weighed less than 2 pounds.
The overall survival rate of infants in LUHS’ NICU is 98 percent. As a Level III perinatal center, LUHS offers the latest technology, therapies and techniques and serves as a national model for specialized protocols and practices in the care of premature infants. Ten percent of premature infants in the U.S. are cared for by LUHS or LUHS-trained physicians.
“Loyola has become a national leader in neonatal care,” said Marc Weiss, MD, FAAP, co-medical director, NICU, LUHS. “Our experience and knowledge allow us to provide the highest level of care for high-risk infants."
This care is provided in a highly secure area of the hospital with 50 tiny beds for the hospital’s smallest patients. Each baby is assigned a team of nurses who care for the infant day after day. This creates continuity in care and allows the nurses to establish a relationship with the infants and their families.
“Our nurses have an intuition that is similar to that of a mother,” said Elaine Trulis, RN, nurse manager, NICU, LUHS. “Intuition is a skill that cannot be taught. It develops over time from years of observing babies and recognizing signs of distress in infants who may need additional interventions."
LUHS nurses staff a first-of-its-kind, integrated home-care program for premature or sick infants. The unit also provides a follow-up clinic for high-risk NICU graduates to undergo developmental screening and referral care during the first 3 years of life.