Nurse: ‘We fight for our babies’
Unit has increased survival rates
A WALL of thank you cards at Hillingdon Hospital’s neonatal unit highlights the gratitude parents have to staff there.
The unit is one of the quietest places in a hospital, caring for premature babies until they are well enough to go home.
There are no early morning wake-up calls, bright lights or loud voices, as babies periodically wake and fall asleep in their heated incubators.
The smallest babies can be born from 23 weeks of gestation and weigh as little as a loaf of bread.
The reason some babies are born too soon is still unclear and can be due to a number of factors including infection.
The unit operates a minimal handling policy for the first 48 to 72 hours to minimise the risk of passing on infections and the babies breathing, heartbeat and fluid intake are all carefully monitored aroundthe-clock.
Nilakshi Joshi, 37, is one of the unit’s senior nurses. She has a very personal reason for her choice of career.
She said: “I was nine years old when two of my siblings died within 48 hours of birth due to diabetic complications. I have been protective of babies ever since and knew I wanted to specialise in neo-natal care as soon as I choose a career in nursing.”
Improvements in survival rates and technology needed the the
to keep premature babies alive have helped make greats strides in neo-natal care during her 13 years in the field.
“These babies are born with a huge disadvantage so the team put everything we can into helping them.
“They are fighters so we fight for them,” she said.
The UK has the highest rate of premature births in Europe with about one in eight babies born in the UK prematurely.
The good news is survival rates for premature babies have gone up in the last 20 years.
Nearly 80 per cent of babies weighing 2lb 2oz are expected to live, compared with just 20 per cent in 1980.
Hillingdon Hospital neo-natal unit offers relaxed visiting times giving parents the option to see their baby at any time of the day or night.
Babies can stay in the unit from a day or two up to several months.
Ms Joshi ends her 12-hour shifts before handing over to a senior colleague and heading home to Northolt for a well-earned rest.
And she doesn’t have trouble relaxing. “I sleep like a baby,” she said.
n PROTECTIVE OF BABIES: Nilakshi Joshi, neonatal senior nurse at Hillingdon Hospital
n CARING PLACE: Hillingdon Hospital in Pield Heath Road Photo by Shane Dempsey www. buyaphototms.co.uk