Premature infants are those born before the beginning of the 37th week of pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic. They are susceptible to many health issues including respiratory and circulatory problems, jaundice, and difficulty feeding. They have difficulty regulating their body temperature and may have metabolic issues. It is also common for premature infants to have an underdeveloped immune system.
Given all of these potential complications paired with recent statistical studies showing that 1 in 10 infants are born preterm in the US (2018, Mayo Clinic), every community is in need of hospitals that can quickly and effectively address the perilous medical challenges of premature infants.
Fortunately for Hernando County, The Baby Place at Bayfront Health Spring Hill has now served the area’s critically ill and premature infants in their neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 17 years. Coinciding with this milestone, was NICU Awareness Month in September. The hospital recognized special days including NICU Staff Recognition Day, Sibling Support Day, and Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness Day by sharing photos, information, praise for employees on their Facebook pages.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Health Encyclopedia, the average length of a twin pregnancy is 35 weeks-- so it is fairly common for multiples to be born prematurely. In 2019, the Bayfront Baby Place NICU welcomed 10 sets of twins and even a set of triplets.
The unit became a level II NICU in 2013, undergoing a multi-million dollar upgrade. A level II NICU provides infants with necessary medical care such as IV therapy, medications, and respiratory support along with closer monitoring of infants with special medical needs. (The level 3 NICU typically serves infants that require continuous respiratory support while the level 4 NICU provides surgical intervention.)
And what type of services does the level II NICU provide? Jennifer Siem, Director of Public Relations explains, “Bayfront Health Spring Hill's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) provides care for critically ill or premature infants. As a Level II NICU, Bayfront Baby Place is considered a specialty care unit. This means, for any baby that needs a little extra support, that we have specially trained neonatal intensive care nurses and neonatal care provided by Johns Hopkins All Children's Specialty Physicians. Our staff has the specialized training and skills to stabilize very sick or very premature babies. This may include: Prematurity, Respiratory disorders, Blood sugar stabilization, Feeding difficulties, Drug withdrawal, Infection or sepsis, Other special needs.”
Kellie McClean, RN, BSN, RNC has worked in Bayfront’s NICU for 15 of its 17 years in existence. She remarks, "Bayfront Baby Place celebrates 17 years of providing Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU)! I have been blessed to work there for 15 of those years and to have worked with so many wonderful and caring nurses. Additionally, I am so grateful to have met some wonderful parents that have allowed me to care for their precious babies at Bayfront Baby Place!! No one wants their baby to have to go to NICU, but know that if they do, we are there to care for your baby as if it was our own."
NICU nurse, Jillian Colon, RN, BSN expresses pride to be a part of the Bayfront NICU team and her special connection to Bayfront Baby Place.
"I am so proud to be part of the Bayfront Health Spring Hill NICU team. I have the pleasure of taking care of babies and families within the community that raised me, in the hospital, I was actually born in! Grateful for the team here who constantly focuses on quality care and treats our babies like our own babies."
More Remarks from the NICU Team:
"I'm very excited to be celebrating 17 years of compassionate care in our NICU! Our team absolutely loves what we do and we are blessed to be able to care for the tiniest and most vulnerable humans in our community." -Demidra Tsouris RN
"I enjoy taking care of the babies not only in our community but in the surrounding communities. It gives me great joy to bond with parents while caring for their babies while they are in the NICU." -Dawn Stevens RN
"The Bayfront Spring Hill NICU has served the community for 17 years, providing quality, family-centered care by highly-skilled neonatal certified staff. The nurses here are like family who provides excellent care to the community." -Meredith Pritchard RN, BS, CCRN
"After working for Bayfront Health for 12 years, and being in the NICU for the last 5 years, I've found my calling working with the best nurses of my whole career." -Rhonda Abraham RN
"As a new nurse I'm excited to work with the NICU team." -Crystal Rodriguez RN