The first baby of the new year born at Lawrence Memorial Hospital was cared for in the Level 2 nursery, where babies who aren't healthy enough for the regular nursery but aren't sick enough to be transported to a regional medical center stay.
Suzanne McGinn, clinical coordinator for the hospital's Mother-Baby Unit and Level 2 nursery, said an average of four babies stay in the Level 2 nursery each month. There, they gain weight, receive needed oxygen or finish a regimen of antibiotics.
Sarah Jane Seymour, the first baby delivered at LMH this year, born three weeks premature and with fluid in her lungs, was cared for in the Level 2 nursery, where she was adminstered oxygen for a few days. Although physicians didn't detect an infection, Sarah Jane received antibiotics "just in case," her mother, Cheryl, said.
McGinn said the decision to keep babies in the Level 2 nursery is made by the mother's delivering physician and the child's physician.
ASKED WHAT problems qualify a baby for special care, McGinn said, "Mostly babies needing a bit of oxygen."
Premature babies also are a common sight in the nursery, she said. Babies born with an infection may need to stay in the Level 2 nursery to finish antibiotics, and babies who need phototherapy for jaundice may be candidates for the nursery.
McGinn said infants who've been at a Level 3 nursery at another hospital may be brought to LMH for care until they're healthy enough to go home. An infant in the nursery Tuesday had been at another hospital and was transported to LMH for intermediate care.
Babies who need Level 3 care include "very premature" infants, babies who need respiratory support or surgery and infants with congenital disorders. McGinn said babies who need Level 3 care usually are taken to the Kansas University Medical Center, Children's Mercy Hospital or St. Luke's Hospital, all in the Kansas City area.
"ALL DECISIONS to transport are made by the physician," McGinn said.
The length of stay for an infant in the Level 2 nursery varies quite a bit, depending on the nature of the baby's health problems. It can range from a few days to a few weeks, she said.
McGinn and Vicki Friede, director of maternal-child nursing at LMH, said staff of the Level 2 nursery stress the need to keep the babies with their mothers and other family members. Even though the babies require special care, they still need to connect with their families, McGinn said.
"Keeping the families together is really important," she said.
Mrs. Seymour said she was allowed to "come and go" at the nursery as much as she wanted, and visitors also were allowed to see her baby, who she said is gaining weight and doing better.
Because mothers with Level 2 babies usually are dismissed from the hospital before their babies, LMH provides a special room where the mother or other family members can stay while the baby is making healthy strides. Criteria for dismissing babies from the Level 2 nursery are that the baby has gained weight, maintained his or her own temperature and is breathing on his or her own, McGinn said.
THE SEGEBRECHT Room, named for Dr. Stephen Segebrecht, a local physician, "gets a lot of use," McGinn said. She said the room is especially useful for breastfeeding moms.
McGinn said the room gives staff members a place away from the hustle and bustle of the nursery to visit with family members and provide them with information about their baby's health problems.
"The opportunity for teaching is the basis of what we do," McGinn said. "It all goes back to the family-centered theme."