Women's Health

Good Samaritan NICU: Fifty Years of Exceptional Care (Video)

Video: "Working in here is not a job. It's a calling." – Janet Sherrod RN.

World Prematurity Day is observed on Nov. 17 each year to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide. Approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year, accounting for about one in 10 of all babies born worldwide.

The Good Samaritan NICU has been saving lives of the tiniest babies for 50 years.

Barbara Krollmann was a nurse at Good Samaritan’s Preemie Nursery and became the first head nurse of the Newborn ICU in 1965 when the unit opened. Barbara recalls the country’s interest in NICUs after Patrick Kennedy, newborn son of President and Mrs. Kennedy, died due to respiratory distress syndrome. “That baby’s death drove the impetus in neonatal care,” she says.

The Newborn ICU received Level III status, “almost unheard of back then for a private hospital to get that level,” says Barbara, who went on to become the first Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in Cincinnati in 1987.

NICU 50 Years Ago

“The first 20 years of the unit marked huge developments in neonatal technology, care and clinical roles,” says Barb, “all of which are still being expanded in the unit we know today.”

She remembers that RH disease was the biggest issue they dealt with, at one time completing 32 double-volume exchange transfusions in one week to prevent jaundice and potential brain damage. The unit also did many cleft lip repairs but saw nothing like today’s number of “micro-preemies.”

NICU Today

Today, the NICU sees a radically different patient population, says Karen Fallis, BSN, RN, staff nurse, NICU. “We’re dealing with preemies – we fight for them to live. Back in the early days,” she says, “they didn’t have the sophisticated equipment of today or so many specialists. Now we are saving babies, sometimes at 23 or 24 weeks. We also see a lot more premature and multiple births at younger gestation due to the increased success of fertility treatments.”

Today’s NICU features nurse practitioners; dietitians; occupational, physical and speech therapists; and a whole array of other specialists working in a multidisciplinary team to provide holistic care.

Another huge change is family-centered care, says Karen. “In the old days, parents were asked to step out of the nursery during rounds and reports. Now we embrace them – we want them to be part of the plan of care and bedside care for their babies. The whole family is our patient.”

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Last Updated: November 16, 2015