The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is a place of healing and is a beacon of light for families who have premature babies. Covenant Children’s serves Lea County with support for preemies and their families. It is the region’s only fully licensed freestanding children’s hospital.
In January 2017, Covenant Children’s acquired the free-standing children’s hospital license, which signals innumerable growth opportunities for Lubbock’s only hospital built just for children, according to Covenant Children’s.
“With our prior licensing, we have been limited in the number of patients we can serve here and in the region,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, president of Covenant Children’s. “We are excited to be the only free-standing fully licensed children’s hospital in the region.”
When a baby is born with medical complication or is born premature they are admitted into a NICU for specialized treatment.
“Our unit is fully equipped to handle infants’ surgical needs as well as premature and ill infants. Lubbock is the hub for the panhandle, Permian basin and areas of New Mexico,” said Kristie Griffin, BSN, RNC-NIC, NICU nurse. “Covenant has our own transport team that is always ready to transport the high-risk pregnant women and the sick, premature babies. We count it a privilege to service such a wide area.”
Premature babies born in Lea County are often transported to Lubbock, Texas, where Covenant Children’s is located, to receive treatment. Covenant Children’s is the highest-rated NICU in the region.
Babies who are born at less than 32 weeks and weigh less than 1,500 grams require much more care and support.
Covenant Children’s follows special procedures for each individual family who will come into the NICU, said Courtney McPherson, NICU manager. “Anytime we have a high-risk mom, or we’ve identified a mom with a baby that’s going to have complications, we make a plan for their care in our Perinatal Advisory Council.”
Every staff member necessary for the care of an incoming NICU baby or babies is included in the Perinatal Advisory Council, which is an essential component for the individualized care of each preemie.
“All babies are different. You can have four babies that act differently and do things on their own time,” McPherson said. “The Sanchez Family ended up taking three babies home and left one here for a bit because the one was not quite ready to go home. We have to be flexible with that and help families however we can.”
The Sanchez Family is a family from Lovington, New Mexico in Lea County who had quadruplets who received care from Covenant Children’s NICU. [Read more about this story on page 4-5].
The NICU also is designed to allow siblings to sleep in the same pod. This increases and supports the bonding between the babies, which also increases the overall health.
All the Sanchez Quadruplets were kept together during their time at the NICU, and received the specialized care that Covenant Children’s NICU provided.
“They were in a pod lined up, A, B, C, D,” McPherson said. The NICU at Covenant Children’s allows two to three family members in the NICU per baby. “The family was able to come in, and they were all together. We always will accommodate that when we have multiple babies per family.”
The hospital also doesn’t restrict sibling visitation, McPherson said.
“Even if a family were to have eight kids, they could all come in at once,” McPherson said. “We want them to visit as a family unit together and for them to be able to have all of their children new babies included together in one setting.”
Covenant Children’s NICU contains 43 beds and safely cares for the most critical babies. Babies are provided support by a team specially trained in the care of critically ill and premature babies:
• neonatologists and neonatal nurse
practitioners staffed in-house 24 hours a day
• speech therapist, physical therapist,
• respiratory therapist
• lactation consultants
• pediatric pharmacists
• social workers
Covenant Children’s has the only dedicated pediatric emergency room in the region with specialized, highly-trained staff and equipment focused on the treatment of the children the hospital cares for. The hospital also has the first and only OB emergency department staffed around the clock with board certified OB/GYN physicians to care for expectant mothers.
From its early roots as Methodist Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital, Covenant Health has been providing crucial services to West Texas and eastern New Mexico for nearly 100 years, and is a member of Providence St. Joseph Health. The organization is a not-for-profit health system.
“Covenant Children’s is part of the Children’s Hospital Association of Texas, so we have been aligned with other children’s hospitals across the state. We’ve always had the desire to expand the services that we have,” Thompson said. “We now can expand the current services we have and add other service lines that we haven’t been able to offer up to this point. We also will be able to explore some areas we know that are really needed both in our city and in the region.”
For more information on Covenant Children’s, call (806) 725-0000 or visit covenantchildrens.org on the web.