It’s a journey of ups followed by downs, some in-betweens and cherished moments of triumph: life in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) – now can be seen in an amazing (and adorable) display outside of Hennepin Healthcare’s NICU. On Saturday, October 26, 2019 the photographs will be officially unveiled.
Some babies get a rough start when they enter this world, but many end up thriving thanks to dedicated professionals who deliver round-the-clock care using the latest technology available. But all of that medical know-how cannot replace the love that helps these babies feel safe and secure so they can respond to treatment.
“While our staff are skilled at cuddling, soothing and swaddling little ones, no arms can replace the love from parents and families of our tiniest patients who must hold and touch their babies through a maze of tubes and monitors,” explains Laura Gary, Nurse Manager of Hennepin Healthcare’s NICU. “Every NICU graduate is a testimony to this partnership, now captured through inspirational images in our Wall of Hope.”
Join us as we unveil Hennepin Healthcare’s NICU “Wall of Hope” and celebrate the miraculous journey of these little ones on Saturday, October 26, 2019 from 10am to noon at our Clinic & Specialty Center, 715 South 8th St. in Minneapolis.
After a brief reception featuring some of the NICU “graduates” featured in the photographs by Philip Hussong, guests will go to the NICU for the official unveiling of the display. For more information, go to hennepinhealthcare.org/wallofhope.
Free parking is available in the Clinic & Specialty Center’s underground garage off of Park Avenue between 8th and 9th Streets (821 Park Avenue South). Take the elevator to the first floor for the event.
Oliver Rodriguez-Ocampo has spent each of his 515 days of life at HCMC since his birth on July 20 of last year. To celebrate his “graduation” from the Newborn Intensive Care Unit and now the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) to home, staff at Hennepin Healthcare are having a graduation open house for Oliver from 11am to 1pm today. His “graduation” will include a cap and gown, cake and refreshments.
“We’ve grown awfully close to this little guy,” explains Katie O’Hearn, Child Life Specialist who was one of the organizers of the event. “As far as we know, he’s had one of the longest stays as an inpatient baby we’ve had here in at least 18 years. He’s got each and every one of us wrapped around his adorable little fingers.”
Hennepin Healthcare is an integrated system of care that includes HCMC, a nationally recognized Level I Adult Trauma Center and Level I Pediatric Trauma Center and acute care hospital located in downtown Minneapolis offering a full spectrum of inpatient and outpatient pediatric care, including The Birth Center.
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Hennepin Healthcare has a 50-year history of clinical excellence and advances in care for neonates. To commemorate this event, we’re bringing past patients and family members and current and former staff together for a special celebration.
What: 50th Anniversary of Hennepin Healthcare’s NICU When: Saturday, September 8, 2018 from 10 am – 12:00 pm. Where: Community Room at the Clinic & Specialty Center, located at 715 South 8th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55404. Parking is free and available in the ramp below the Clinic and Specialty Center.
The celebration will include activities for the kids, a visit by Bernie the rescue dog, a retrospective on the advances in NICU care over the last 50 years, and refreshments.
The 21-bed Level IIIB Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Hennepin Healthcare provides the highest level of care in a warm and nurturing environment to infants in distress at birth, those requiring close observation, and those transferred from other facilities for treatment of neonatal diseases. Uniquely located within the Birth Center and staffed around the clock, NICU services are available to delivering mothers at a moment’s notice.
Caring for premature and low birth weight infants has significantly changed over the past 75 years. When a nurse practitioner from Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) recently met a patient from 1942, these amazing details were brought to life – and are a reminder of the remarkable advances that have been made in premature infant care.
Calvin Lepp was born on January 5, 1942 weighing one and three-quarter pounds. At the time, he was Minneapolis General Hospital’s smallest surviving premature infant. A local newspaper learned of Lepp, covered his progress while he was hospitalized, and then ran a feature story about him when he was finally discharged in May of that year.
“I don’t remember much of it,” jokes Lepp, “but they tell me it was a miracle surviving as small as I was. The odds were against me, but I turned out just fine. Got over that weight problem real quick.”
Lepp is a regular at Eden Prairie’s Tavern 4&5, where he met HCMC Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Kolleen Amon, who works in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU).
“Cal is such a character at the tavern – he even has his own spot with his ‘Cal’s Corner’ street sign,” Amon explains. One evening, Lepp was talking to Amon about his wife who passed away from breast cancer. He mentioned how amazing the nurses were who took care of her.
“I told him I was a Nurse Practitioner in HCMC’s NICU, and to my surprise he shared that he was the smallest baby ever saved by HCMC, which of course was Minneapolis General Hospital back in 1942.”
Lepp brought in a copy of the newspaper article from that year which included a photo of him with his nurse on the day he was discharged. The article summarized some of the unique aspects of his care. Amon and her NICU colleagues were intrigued to learn about the standard interventions used to save Lepp’s life – even though they are no longer used today. At the time they were considered “best practices,” and Minneapolis General Hospital already had a reputation for having one of the lowest newborn mortality rates in the country.
Some examples include of Lepp’s care included:
Formula feedings via a medicine dropper
For weeks, Lepp was given formula feedings from a medicine dropper. Today, preterm babies are fed breast milk through an indwelling tube inserted in the mouth or nose down to the stomach. In addition, the article states that “Lepp received only one-sixth of an ounce of breast milk for weeks.” HCMC strongly supports the use of breast milk for preterm infants with lactation services for all mothers to provide breast milk and to breast feed at discharge. With what we know today, receiving mother’s milk may have been the most important factor in Cal’s survival.
Life in an oxygen tent
Studies now show that oxygen in high doses can be harmful to babies. Lepp had vision issues from receiving too much oxygen – but that was the standard of care for premature infants in 1942. We now have state-of-the-art isolettes that allow ambient oxygen to flow through the isolette. We have the ability to give oxygen directly to the baby through respiratory support devices and protocols in place to determine the correct amount of oxygen to deliver to a baby based on their needs.
Frequent administration of respiratory and cardiac stimulants A “dozen times” General Hospital physicians all but gave (Lepp) up. His tiny body actually “turned black” on these occasions. Now, with artificial surfactant to prepare lungs for the world, we are able to prevent many of respiratory problems that are caused from prematurity and ventilation support. Now we use caffeine – the same thing in coffee – to help prevent preterm babies from stopping breathing.
“It is amazing he survived,” explains Dr. Connie Adkisson, medical director of HCMC’s NICU. “But 75 years from now someone may read an article about our standards of care and wonder the same thing.”
So what about the future of premature infant care?
“Antibiotic stewardship comes to mind,” says Dr. Adkisson. “At HCMC, we are already implementing procedures to reduce the amount of antibiotics given to premature and term babies because research has shown that excessive use of antibiotics can increase childhood asthma, lead to antibiotic resistance, and allows growth of less healthy bacteria in the baby’s gastrointestinal tract.”
HCMC NICU “graduates” of all ages and their families are invited to a 75th birthday party for Cal Lepp at HCMC on Wednesday, January 25 from 2-4 PM. A historical look at the advances in premature care, as well as activities and refreshments will also mark the occasion.
Strategically located next to HCMC’s Birth Center, our 21-bed Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has a comprehensive team of specialists available around the clock to care for infants who need intensive care.