By BBN Staff: Today, the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), particularly the staff of its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), held a celebration in commemoration of World Prematurity Day.
Today’s celebration took place in lieu of the globally recognized day, which is celebrated annually on November 17. The KHMH invited parents of premature babies that have passed through the hospital to come and meet other parents and children who have made it through the complication as well as interact with those who are still going through those challenges.
Neroli Williams, manager of the NICU, told our newsroom that premature babies, which are defined as children who were born prior to 37 weeks of gestation, make up almost half (49.3 percent) of the total admissions to the NICU. Williams notes that, as the only NICU in the country, the KHMH sees premature babies from all corners of the country and are rarely operating at less than full capacity.
“There are three levels (of patient needs). Level 1 is for patients who are stable, maybe they waiting to gain some weight or are taking antibiotics. Level 2 is the intermediate stage where the patients are sick, but still need less observation. Level 3 patients are those who are very sick and need lots of attention and close monitoring. Stabilizing a patient can take anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour and a half depending on their level,” Williams said.
She also stressed that the celebration of World Prematurity Day is used as a means to raise awareness about actions mothers can take to decrease the chances of having a premature baby. Those actions include adhering to a healthy diet, taking prenatal vitamins, attending followup clinics, spacing pregnancies at least two years apart and most importantly planning the pregnancies.
“You have to take care of your body prior to getting pregnant. It’s like setting the goal, preparing your body to receive this baby. If you don’t prepare the risk is higher,” Williams added.
The NICU has a capacity to hold 26 patients at a given time. From January to the end of October the NICU has seen some 155 premature babies.