A Doctor’s Perspective

I would like for you to try to imagine what our nursery is like on our most busiest of days. Imagine a room, smaller than the size of an average class-room , with as many as 8 cribs in the room. Each crib may be the size of one or two desks. There is also a teacher’s size desk functioning as the staff’s working station. Now add in a book shelf beside each crib.

This accounts for the specialized equipment that surrounds the baby’s crib. Now add in 2 chairs beside each crib, one each for mom and dad. Now add in 3-4 nurses who are working that shift. Additionally, there may be a pediatrician , a resident or two in training and a medical student. There will often be a respiratory therapist as well. One can understand how crowded it can become. Now imagine that there is an emergency, and a brand new baby is brought into the nursery struggling to breathe.

There will now be more people in our unit, stabilizing the baby. There will be X-ray techs , and lab techs . There will also be large pieces of equipment brought into the room needed to help stabilize the infant. Now close your eyes, and imagine the sounds of babies crying, alarm bells ringing, staff talking as they are working. What a stressful and noisy crowded space for everyone, especially for the baby who has just come from their mother’s womb.

I am Dr. Peggy Lambos, one of five pediatricians who care for the babies in our neonatal unit. We have come a long way since 1999 when I first started. With education, training, equipment and technology, we have escalated our care for our newborns. We now have specialized skills and as a team of physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists, we now provide the best care possible to our infants. However, the physical size of our unit has remained the same.

We strive to keep babies and families close in Prince Albert. Years ago, many babies were transferred to Saskatoon to receive their specialized care. However, over the years, the number of babies being transferred to Saskatoon has dramatically decreased. This is because our team is now able to provide that specialized care here, local-ly in Prince Albert. It is a wonderful feeling to tell parents that we can take care of their baby in Prince Albert, and that they can remain close to family . There always will be times when a baby must be transferred to Saskatoon, and we are forever grateful for the support that we receive from the NICUs in Saskatoon and Regina.

Despite the crowdedness and the chaos which appears to be going on in such a small space, I firmly believe that the care we have provided to our little patients, has been never been compromised. However, this has taken a toll on our nursery staff, as well as on our families. Nurses typically work 12 hour shifts. Imagine what it would be like to work 12 hours in our unit as described above. Additionally, it is incredibly stressful for families to have a new-born who is sick and requires special care. It is even more stressful for parents to try to sit in our unit next to their baby, where there is very little room.

There have been plenty of times when parents have been asked to leave the area, as there is literally no space for them to stay. On top of that, imagine the stress a mother undergoes trying to breastfeed her baby in our unit. As parents sit by their newborn’s bedside, they , without wanting to, observe all tests and treatments that the other babies are undergoing. This can be a very scary experience.

Our team treats the babies who come into our unit as if they are our own . I experience this daily in my work as a pediatrician, but I also experienced it first hand as a mother as well. Eight years ago I was blessed to have my daughter delivered at our hospital. There are no other people in the world that I trust more than the people I work with. My daughter has become a beautiful happy-go-lucky little girl.

Your contribution to the expansion and upgrade of our neonatal unit will be so appreciated. It will be a great in-vestment in the future of our community and its newest little members. Your generosity will allow us to continue caring for our most precious infants in the best possible way.