This petition closed 8 months ago
I have been a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse for the last 12 years and have worked diligently to enable families of premature and critically ill infants to be as involved and connected with the care of their newborns as possible. When a child is in the NICU, the natural bond between parents and infant is disrupted, and keeping families close to the infant in care is vital to the infant's recovery as well as the family bonding experience. I have wittnessed the positive effects of family presence on the outcomes of these babies, and it has been medically documented as well. Studies show that babies become stronger and recover faster when they can feel the mother's voice and heartbeat. If the reclassification of NICUs goes through, families with the most fragile and critically ill infants may be forced to travel three hours to see their child, resulting in these infants being alone for the majority of the day as the parents are sleeping at home or in transit to the hospital.
The Willow Creek Women's Hospital NICU has been taking care of very sick and extremely premature newborns for our community with great success and with outcome data. For the past 2 years, the infant mortality date is on par with University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).
At the request of the Governor Mike Beebe, the Arkansas Department of Health in conjunction with (UAMS), Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH), Baptist Health and the March of Dimes (Little Rock) have developed a committee to identify criteria for the classification of neonatal care units in Arkansas. The committee is proposing that the NICU at Northwest Willow Creek Woman's Hospital will have to reduce it's population of cared-for premature infants. Therefore, many infants will be transfered to a hospital in Little Rock, and the families will have to travel long distances, be without their homes and family support, and sacrifice time bonding with their infants. The three hour drive will be costly and prevent parents from spending maximum time with their infants. The immediate transfer of these infants will also be dangerous due to their extreme fragility in the first few days after birth, increasing the risk for mortality and severe morbidity.
The proposed criteria deviate from the American Academy of Pediatrics latest recommendations, and have a potentially negative impact on local access to care for premature infants for the families of Northwest Arkansas. The Northwest Arkansas community has had a fully functioning Level III NICU for over 11 years with the Northwest Health System. Since early 2008, it has been located at Willow Creek Women's Hospital with a bed capacity for 24 sick/premature infants. We have state of the art equipment with two full time Neonatologists, five full time neonatal nurse practitioners, skilled level III NICU nursing staff and dedicated neonatal respiratory therapists. Please help us gather as many signatures as possible! Thank you for your support!