the torch Summer 2015, Issue 2 - Page 12

FEATURE Recent gifts fund new beds, web cams and a feeding study in NICU Every year, the Blanche Swanzy Lange Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas cares for more than 1,000 infants who need specialized treatment for everything from congenital birth defects to extreme prematurity. And because of several recent philanthropic gifts, medical care providers in the NICU are providing more life-enhancing services and undertaking groundbreaking studies to improve the lives of these tiny patients and their families. A recent anonymous gift of $470,000 allowed the NICU to purchase new Giraffe Beds and add high-tech webcam systems called NICView. A separate gift helped fund a study that could change the way physicians and other medical caregivers monitor feeding problems in newborns. Beds Keep Movement to a Minimum With the addition of 11 new Giraffe Beds, the NICU now has 45 of these special incubators, which can be either fully enclosed or opened at the top to allow medical caregivers access to perform procedures. This means the baby doesn’t have to be moved to a separate bed for procedures. The Giraffe Beds are vital to preterm infants, especially those who have extremely low birth weight, because they haven’t 12 developed the mechanisms to maintain their body temperature. Incubator with a View The gift also helped purchase 35 NICView camera systems. These systems provide mothers and families whose infants are not ready to head home the capability to stay connected to baby remotely via a secured website. Using the website, they can see realtime views of their baby through the camera attached to the baby’s bed. The NICView systems, which have been available to families since February 2015, have received much praise from families. “Parents love this system,” said Gina Reynolds, nurse manager of the NICU. “It gives them peace of mind. The system also tracks data such as who is logging in and from where. In April alone, families had logged on 5,500 times. Better Insight Into Feeding Problems Philanthropic support has also funded a groundbreaking study that could change the way infants who have feeding problems are monitored. When a baby has trouble feeding, as many infants in the NICU do, physicians order the “gold standard” of tests – an X-ray – to determine what is going wrong. This standard has several drawbacks: it exposes the baby to radiation; it can only take a still-view snapshot of how the baby is swallowing; and it can only be done while a baby is bottle-feeding, not breastfeeding. While it helps identify why a baby has trouble bottle-feeding, the X-ray can’t be used to prove or disprove whether breastfeeding is safe. “After an X-ray, we’d often identify the source of the problem, and we could usually fix it,” said Chrysty Sturdivant, a neonatal occupational therapist. “But sometimes a baby who has trouble on a bottle will breastfeed beautifully. We just couldn’t prove that breastfeeding is safe.” This meant that health care providers couldn’t legally recommend to a mother that she breastfeed – devastating news for mothers who want to breastfeed their baby. Chrysty and fellow neonatal occupational therapist Sandra Carroll, along with Jenny Reynolds, a neonatal speech and language therapist, decided to create a study that could investigate how a baby swallows during breastfeeding. It’s called FEES – Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing – in the NICU. It involves inserting a tiny, fiberoptic camera into the baby’s nose while he or she is breastfeeding. Philanthropic support enabled Baylor Dallas to purchase the equipment to perform these evaluations.