Sunday, March 11, 2012

My experience at Kosair Children's Hospital

This is one of those entries that is partially for sharing my experience with others, but also a true journal entry for me to have a reminder of my day at Kosair.  So bear with me, this one might be wordy yet vague (darn that HIPAA...I would love to have gotten a few pictures!), probably kinda boring for those not in nursing/healthcare or having an interest in NICU/pediatric nursing.  But in my mind, it's worth writing down in detail.

The day started out in the lobby of Kosair.  Not growing up in Kentucky or doing much in Louisville, I wasn't very familiar with Kosair, other than knowing they were an excellent children's hospital.  My peds instructor worked at Kosair for years, so she is always telling us something about her experience there, some of the kiddos she's seen over the years.  We went up to the PICU floor to drop off the 2 students who would be in the PICU, then back down to the NICU for the 2 of us would be in the NICU.  Before we went with our nurses for the day, we got a tour of the unit. We were shown the behind-the-scenes areas, such as the formula/breastmilk and diaper room, where we got a couple souvenirs -- 2 diapers, a newborn size and a preemie size (smallest diaper I have ever seen in my life!) and 2 baby hats, a newborn size and a preemie size.  I'm just in awe of how tiny the preemie things truly are.

We also got to go to the different units and see some of the babies.  I have seen pictures of premature babies before, but until you see a tiny 24-weeker, you really have no idea how small those babies can be.  It was amazing...their little heads were smaller than my closed fist, their little feet were maybe an inch or so long, their tiny little fists were the size of a marble.  My classmate and I both commented that they don't look real, they look like little dolls.  Unless I work in a NICU like this some day, I will never see babies this tiny.  Of course we didn't do anything but look at them, but still...seeing their set-ups there....priceless experience.

We returned to the NICU unit where we would be spending the day and met up with our nurses.  I worked with a nurse who had 3 little patients - a set of twins and a little 28-weeker.  Now this is where I want to be very careful of what I say, in the event someone reading might recognize the patients I helped care for.  I can't get into detail of course, but I can say that I did do some assessing on the little twins, I got to feed one of them, and I did a lot of watching as my nurse did her assessments and patient care on the them.  As for the little 28-weeker, we didn't do much with him, as babies that age just prefer to be left alone, but she did do a brief assessment when she checked his diaper, listened to his little heart and lungs, and got his feeding set up.  Other than taking a look at him here and there, I didn't do anything with him the rest of the day.  He was one of the little babies they leave alone as much as possible and just feed them and let them grow.  I did ask a lot of questions, though...about working at Kosair in general, working in the NICU, the prognosis of the babies, etc.  I was very thankful she was willing to let me shadow and pester her all day!  ;-)

Before we left Kosair, our instructor wanted us to see the ECMO room.  Again, I must be very careful what I say here for the sake of the patient...but I have never, ever walked into a patient room and been as overwhelmed as I was in that ECMO room.  For those who don't know, ECMO = extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.  It's like hemodialysis, but it also does the work of the heart and the lungs.  So the patient's blood circulates through the machine and is oxygenated and filtered.  There are 2 large lines in the patient's neck that go into and come out of the machine, and you can see very clearly that one is an arterial line, one is a venous line.  This particular patient had 16 (!!!) different IV lines going...regular IV fluids, TPN (nutrition), insulin, pain meds, heparin...  I have seen piggybacked meds and a couple different IV pumps on a single IV pole...but this patient had 2 IV poles, each with 2 IV pumps that run 2 lines at a time, plus several infusion pumps running his various meds.  I have never ever seen anything like it.  It was impressive...both on a pretty cool and somewhat horrifying level.  And this is when I wish I could have taken a couple pictures, just so show the amount of machinery and technology being used for just this one single patient.  Again, you can't really comprehend it until you see it yourself.  And the images I found via Google search...just not the same kind of thing.

I do wish I lived closer to Kosair, or any major children's hospital, for that matter, so I could work there.  A job in a NICU like that...that is my dream job.  Unfortunately I'm 2 hours from Kosair, no other children's hospital nearby, so it's not exactly a doable situation.  But...I never know what my future holds...

1 comment:

  1. That sounds amazing and awesome that you got a chance to witness all of that stuff going on! Yea too bad you live so far away, but you're right you never know what the future holds for you.