NICU at North Bay Regional Health Centre: Caring for our smallest patients

When Kristen Roy’s water broke at 34 weeks, she didn’t quite believe it.

“I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even think that was really what was happening. It was too early!”

Kristen, a supply teacher, immediately tried to get a hold of her husband Louis who was getting ready to go out of town for a night shift.

Kristen says she didn’t realize the urgency of the situation. “I told Louis to go ahead to work, that I would go to the hospital and get checked out. I thought it was too soon to have the baby, and was sure they would just send me home.” Their son Nolan was born just over three hours later.

Baby makes three

Kristen and Louis met through friends in university, when she was in North Bay and he was in Toronto. After a few years of a long distance relationship, they decided to move in together in North Bay. Louis proposed in the fall of 2008 and they were married the following July. When they decided to start a family, Kristen said it happened almost right away and she enjoyed a very healthy pregnancy.
The day she delivered, she said she woke up and wasn’t feeling great. After work she still was feeling ‘off’, and then later that evening her water broke. Not convinced it was actually her water breaking, Kristen didn’t think there was a rush to get to the hospital. “I wanted to brush my teeth, change, have a shower,” she laughs now.

Once at Labour and Delivery the nurses confirmed Kristen’s water had broken—Nolan was on his way, exactly six weeks early.

At 10:58 pm, Nolan Edward Maurice Roy was born at 4 lbs 12 oz and 47 cm long. “The total time from my water breaking to delivery was about three hours and 13 minutes,” Kristen explains.

Caring for our smallest patients

Kristen says she held Nolan briefly before he was brought to the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Shortly after, she was able to go see him.

“It was very surreal because everything happened so fast and he was so early—it was amazing that he was here, that he was mine.” After the shock wears off reality sets in. “Soon you realize you’re not going home tomorrow with a 7 lb baby.”

The North Bay Regional Health Centre provides an Intensive Care Nursery setting for newborns as early as 30 weeks gestation. Five Pediatricians and 15 skilled nurses with specialty Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing education provide intensive nursing for critically ill babies and supportive care for pre-term infants as they develop.

Life in the NICU

Kristen says from the beginning the staff were very supportive. “I was discharged from the hospital on my second day. The NICU nurses gave me their number and said I could call anytime day or night. I never did call, but knowing I could was comfort enough.”

During his first few days of life, Nolan was treated for jaundice with phototherapy and had an IV to hydrate him. For three weeks he received his food through a feeding tube. Nolan also had apnea where he would stop breathing and his heart rate would decrease. When that happened an alarm on the monitor would sound and the nurses would assist him. He received caffeine for a couple of weeks to help stop these apnea “spells” from occurring.

In order to be discharged from the NICU Nolan had to be off the caffeine and not have any spells for seven days. He needed to be gaining weight and had to be feeding by mouth (no tube feeds) for 48 hours.

When it was time to go home, Kristen was able to spend the first night with her son in the “Care by Parent” room. Just like at home Kristen was responsible for his care, but had the comfort in knowing help was just around the corner if she needed it.

Continued Support

Kristen says leaving the hospital was bitter sweet. “Although we were excited to have our son home with us, in a way the unit began to feel like home.”

The support from the nurses continued even after she left the NICU – “They told me to call anytime I had concerns. They knew Nolan best and there was times I did call. It was great knowing I had that support, even after we left the hospital.”

Kristen says she thinks we are so lucky to have an amazing department like the NICU with staff like this right here in North Bay. “None of the nurses treat their position like a job. What they do is not a job requirement – it’s being an amazing person”.

Central Fetal Monitoring System

Currently the North Bay Regional Health Centre Foundation is helping the community raise funds to support the purchase of a Central Fetal Monitoring System for Labour and Delivery. It will provide a vital window into the womb and give valuable medical information to the care team.

The most important thing during labour and delivery is response time when there is a concern. With the ability of obstetricians to be able to view the monitoring remotely, they can assess the diagnostics and determine a course of action, even while they are on the way to the hospital. The electronic medical record allows archiving of data, which will allow nurses to spend more time with patients.

The new monitor will provide remote on-line monitoring of every baby’s heart rate and the mother’s uterine contractions and vital signs. With the “real-time” assessment – physicians can instantly access all data from a smart phone, home or office and make important qualitative diagnostic aid for time-critical, life-saving decisions and interventions.