Healthy Conversations

Healthy Conversations with Saint Alphonsus

Sophie and her Neonatologist: A NICU Success Story

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Neonatologist Stewart Lawrence, M.D., was recently honored as a 2014 NICU Hero by Mead Johnson Nutrition and Hand to Hold, a national nonprofit Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Dr. Lawrence practices at Saint Alphonsus with Mountain States Neonatology, an affiliate of Pediatrix Medical Group.

Sophie Carney, of Meridian, nominated Dr. Lawrence for his compassionate and excellent care following the birth of her twin girls at 25 weeks and six days gestation. Her twins were born shortly after she underwent a procedure to treat a life-threatening fetal condition known as twin-to-twin syndrome, or TTTS.

TTTS is a rare condition that causes one twin to grow larger and another to fail to grow. The condition appears in less than 20 percent of identical twins and occurs when the blood flow through their placental connections become unbalanced. One twin does not get enough blood while the other becomes overloaded with too much blood and fluid. Babies who survive TTTS during gestation may face a range of health problems resulting from both TTTS and premature birth.  Carney says Dr. Lawrence became her constant source of communication as a NICU team cared for her girls for nearly 20 weeks.

Dr. Lawrence was involved in their day-to-day care, and he knew the big picture – the overall path to their long-term health. I realize that many people do not get this kind of care. Not only is he paying attention to all of the details, but he also has such a good bedside manner,” Carney says.

“Neonatal healthcare providers know how the trauma of a baby’s NICU stay can affect the entire family and the very real difference family-centered care can make for parents and their baby,” says Kelli Kelley, founder of Hand to Hold and mother of two preemies. The compassionate care Kelley received, and has also seen medical professionals give other parents, is the driving force behind creating the annual NICU Heroes Awards.

The NICU Heroes Award includes a $2,500 donation in the winner’s name to the pediatric healthcare charity of their choice. Dr. Lawrence designated St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to receive his honorarium. St. Jude is a research and treatment facility for catastrophic diseases in children, primarily pediatric cancers.

“I am in awe of Sophie and other NICU moms.  It is impossible for us to understand being a mom and having a baby in NICU. The gamut of emotions is incredible,” said Dr. Lawrence. “As NICU providers, we want to help them through these very difficult times. We play an intensive role that hopefully, in a very short time, will all be relegated to memories and a scrapbook.”

Mead Johnson Nutrition partnered with Hand to Hold to create the NICU Heroes Award to reward the experience, professionalism, support and deep compassion these NICU health care professionals give their patients and their families.  Families from 30 U.S. states nominated neonatal nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals who helped make a difference for their preterm or medically fragile newborns.

“As a mother to preterm twin toddlers, I was moved by the many inspiring stories of families and healthcare professionals coming together to provide extraordinary care to fragile infants who faced challenging situations during their early days of life,” said Ivonne Monteagudo, senior vice president and general manager, North America and Global Marketing, Mead Johnson Nutrition. “As a world-leading infant nutrition company, Mead Johnson is honored to recognize the dedication of healthcare professionals who perform heroics in NICUs across the country every day.”

“NICU heroes understand that in order for babies to thrive, they must have smart, informed parents who are capable of meeting their child’s needs after discharge,” explained Kelley. “We are grateful for the NICU heroes who reach beyond their job descriptions to provide comfort, understanding and words of encouragement to help parents navigate their NICU journey. Our NICU Heroes strive to integrate parents into the daily care of their baby to ensure they are ready to meet the needs of their medically fragile child.”

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