MedWatch: NICU Changes

Munson Medical Center is in the midst of its largest expansion in the hospital’s history.

They’re raising money for more operating rooms and surgical capacity.

But the biggest project will be a new family birth and children’s center, which includes an expanded neonatal intensive care unit, an expanded maternity unit and a dedicated pediatrics unit.

Michelle Dunaway and Corey Adkins introduce us to a family who shows us exactly why they’ve made this a priority in today’s MedWatch.

Little Rayden may only be 7 months old, but he’s won over the hearts of all who meet him. And he’s met plenty after spending almost six months in Munson Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit.

His entry into the world was pretty scary.

“I woke up in the middle of the night and I was really ill, like nauseated but not morning sickness, I never had that,” said Melinda Eastman, Rayden’s mother. “They took me by ambulance to Traverse City and about a half hour, 45 minutes after I got there I had a C-section and delivered.”

Lisa Allred, M.D., a neonatologist at Munson Medical Center, explained, “His mom came in very sick. Her body was basically shutting down from pregnancy and he basically had to be delivered in the middle of the night. He was 13 weeks early and his lungs were not ready to be here.”

Rayden ended up on a mechanical ventilator for weeks, which caused him to have a hernia. 

It’s pretty common in preemies, but that procedure had never been done on an infant at Munson until neonatologist Lisa Allred made sure all the key players were in place.

Together they spent hours planning and did a run-through, and made sure the mom and dad were on board.

“You have the option at any time to go to U of M or Helen DeVos or a larger surgical center to get this done, and what for us was really nice to hear is ‘No, we trust the team, you know him, you’ve cared for him since he was his sickest and his youngest and we want him to stay here,’ and for us, that really was a motivator to help us do this and do it right,” explained Dr. Allred.

This is the first of many changes happening at Munson Medical Center, and lots of them are happening here.

“We are three years into a five year capitol expansion project and campaign. It is the largest expansion in MMC’s history and featured within that expansion are addition OR’s, additional surgery capacity, as well as a new family birth and children’s center. There will be 3 inpatient units including an expanded neonatal ICU a dedicated pediatrics unit and an expanded maternity unit,” explained Desiree Worthington, chief development officer.

Priority No. 1 is keeping parents close to their babies, and one way to do that is through improved technology.

“Until recently, we have been really limited in the neonatal services we can provide, and so as a result we have often transferred a lot of babies downstate where parents may or may not be able to spend as much time as they begin to grow and develop. We know that developmental outcomes are much better if parents are directly involved, and so our new model of care is going to be family integrated care, where the parents are an active contributor to the care team,” said Dr. Allred.

Another way to do that is with more space for families like the Eastmans.

“I think it will be a lot better for the families. When he was first born, once you’re put in that spot, it’s not that easy to move a baby when they’re that sick. Sometimes I could only hold him once or twice a week and sometimes I couldn’t hold him because there were too many people in there and it was just too loud,” said Melinda.

Dr. Allred added, “Once we have the ability to expand where we have a private room format, which more supports the environment that they will have at home where the parents can be in control of their surroundings, where the parents have control over the lights and noise and routines,” said Melinda.

Today little Rayden is thriving at home, one more success story from the NICU at Munson Medical Center, and certainly not the last.

“I’m excited! I love, love, love being here. We are growing, we are serving all of Northern Michigan, we are the only NICU in this area and we owe it to our families and our communities and our neighbors to be able to provide these services, and I know we can do it well,” said Dr. Allred.

Categories: MedWatch