NICU rings in the new year with advancements and teamwork

NICU rings in the new year with advancements and teamwork

It’s the right thing to do. That was reason enough for Alysia Lester, DNP/CNP, and Nan Fitzgerald, RN, to lead the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) toward utilizing an exclusively human milk diet with low birthweight babies. Since transitioning from a bovine milk fortifier to a human milk fortifier, the NICU has seen zero occurrences of Necrotizing EnteroColitis (NEC), one of the greatest risks for babies born between 23 and 25 weeks.

“If one of our babies develops NEC and needs a higher level of care, they are often transported to Sanford Children’s Hospital, which leads to family separation, financial burden, stress and hardship,” said Alysia. “Our staff felt that if we can reduce even one case of NEC, then then this project is a must.”

Caregivers in the NICU performed a thorough research review, which confirmed improved outcomes in very low birthweight infants who used a milk fortifier using human milk as opposed to bovine milk. The research shows that an exclusively human milk diet leads to decreased ventilator days, shortened time to full feeds and decreased mortality, among many other benefits.

“We want to provide the most optimal care for our very low birthweight infants in order to give them the best start in life and to avoid as many setbacks and adverse consequences of their prematurity as possible,” said Nan.

While the cost of the product is high, Alysia said it is worth every penny when considering the cost of treating NEC or other feeding complications. In addition to no cases of NEC, Alysia said NICU babies are better tolerating the fortifier made from human milk.

Alysia and Nan both gave credit to the nursing department as a whole for backing this initiative, along with others like the pasteurized donor human milk project, which began five years ago, as well as Lactation Services, which started in 2001 at Rapid City Hospital. The two credited the NICU staff, which Alysia said has been “phenomenal” during this process. Caregivers went through extensive training to learn how to properly use the product, and they also prepared comprehensive education for parents.

Nan said caregivers in the NICU have much to look forward to in 2019, including the addition of a nurse and two more Patient Care Champions. But they’ll also be celebrating the health of NICU babies.

“The new year will see most of these infants getting close to their original due dates, so we will be celebrating that!”

Latest News

More Like This Right Orange Arrow