Nurse: ‘We fight for our ba­bies’

Unit has in­creased sur­vival rates

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Zoe Drewett zoe.drewett@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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

Photo con­trib­uted

n CAR­ING PLACE: Hilling­don Hos­pi­tal in Pield Heath Road Photo by Shane Dempsey www. buyapho­totms.co.uk

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