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August 1, 2013

New parents welcome neonatal outreach service

Going home with a new baby is nerve-wracking in any situation, but do it after your baby has spent time in neonatal intensive care and the stress can be overwhelming, says West Coast Public Health Nurse Catherine Andrew.

Going home with a new baby is nerve-wracking in any situation, but do it after your baby has spent time in neonatal intensive care and the stress can be overwhelming, says West Coast Public Health Nurse Catherine Andrew. 

“Throw in living in a remote rural location, and it can be a very difficult transition to make.”

Catherine moved to the West Coast just over a year ago and was immediately keen to see if there was a possibility of setting up an Outreach Service that would take care of these parents and their vulnerable babies.

“After I asked various staff about who followed up on these families, I was approached by one of the District Nurses who mentioned that Christchurch was keen to identify someone in Buller who would be happy to support them.

 “My role is to follow up on the babies that leave the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Christchurch Hospital. They can be babies with a feeding issue, oxygen requirement, or cardiac issue – anything that  requires keeping a closer eye on them.

“It could even be just to support the family as they adjust to life back home after being in an intensive care environment for sometimes three or four months.”

Catherine says she works with Dot O’Connor from Parfitt Ward at  Greymouth Base Hospital, West Coast DHB paediatrician Dr John Garrett and the team from Christchurch Hospital to provide another layer of support for the babies and their families.

“Because of the stress of the situation the mothers can be more at risk of post-natal depression, or if they are unsure of something they can feel far away from help. Often other mums don’t realise that having a premature or ill baby can be a real roller coaster ride, so for them to have someone who understands what they’ve gone through can be very helpful.”

Catherine has a background in neonatal intensive care and has also worked at Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland.

Catherine travels between Punakaiki and Seddonville for her Public Health duties and will include her Neonatal Outreach service in the same area.

She says that how long she’ll keep visiting the families will depend on each baby. “As soon as they are doing well, and the family is feeling more confident, I can refer them on to Plunket, Rata Te Awhina or Public Health for their Well Child Checks. 

“Alternatively, if it is a long-term condition I can continue to visit and support the family."  

- Ends- 

 

For further information contact:

Erin Jamieson

Communications Team

m: 021 743 237

t: 03 769 7400

Corporate - West Coast District Health Board | Grey Base Hospital, PO Box 387, Greymouth 7840

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