At Brave Beginnings, our mission is to provide hospitals and their neonatal intensive care units with state-of-the-art technology that saves the lives of preemies. Today, we’re profiling one hospital we visited that was in dire need of this kind of essential technology: Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan is a regional referral center dedicated to improving the health and lives of children and families. Care is provided by pediatric nurses, therapists and clinicians and more than 200 pediatric physicians in 50 pediatric specialties and programs. This means it offers the highest degree of quality care for at-risk newborns, including life-saving treatments and interventions such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, cardiovascular surgery. In 2011, when the hospital applied to our grant program, The Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital featured the 11th largest Neonatal Center in the country, including a 67-bed NICU and a 36-bed intermediate care unit for babies whose health had stabilized yet still needed hospitalization. What stuck out to us most significantly about this fantastic hospital was its need for two GE Panda iRes Warmers for their neonates and preemies, which they were not able to provide without our support (if you’re wondering what a Panda iRes Warmer is, read our piece on them and other NICU technology here).

Research shows that the implementation of oxygen flow moments after birth must be regulated cautiously, in order to prevent the overuse of oxygen on the infant, which consequently results in damage to already delicate lung tissue. One of the many benefits of using the Panda iRes Warmer is that it enables administrators to accurately monitor and provide how much oxygen the baby needs. The Panda iRes Warmer also is a resuscitator, so it allows for providing actual breaths to the infant via a mechanism of consistent ventilating pressure, as opposed to the service a manual oxygen bag and mask. Of the 8,000 infants delivered in 2011 at the hospital, it was projected that there were approximately 800 infants that would require resuscitation measures. So the need for this live-saving technology was dire for this hospital.

In 2011, Brave Beginnings was very pleased to be able to provide this fantastic, life-saving facility with $36,550 to purchase two Panda iRes Warmers shortly after they applied to our program. We recently visited the hospital to check in on progress, and were very pleased to meet and speak with hospital staff who regularly use the machinery we were able to provide the hospital with. Edgar Beaumont, a Neonatologist at the hospital, explained:

Because of the donation [received from Brave Beginnings], we are able to provide the time sensitive resuscitation needed at several births more efficiently and effectively to ensure the safety of our newborns. The warmers are unique in that the equipment needed for resuscitation is built into each warmer itself, instead of having to purchase separate equipment and pull it from room to room–sometimes at a critical moment when a precious life is on the line. The new warmers give our staff more room to work and allow them to focus on the needs of the infant fully, instead of running to get the correct equipment.

He also noted, when we initially provided the grant, he also noted:

When considering an average of 800 Spectrum Health infants need resuscitation measures each year, it can be projected that each machine would be able to save approximate 400 newborns. Over the anticipated 10 year life span of the warmers, each machine would allow Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital to serve approximately 4,000 infants with top of the line equipment, for a total reach of approximately 8,000 delicate lives.

Those are some impressive statistics!

We are also pleased to say that along with our recent hospital visit, we were able to award the hospital with another grant, this time of $26,579, this time to purchase an Oscillator Ventilator. Unlike traditional ventilators, which essentially inflate and deflate the baby’s lungs like a set of billows, the oscillator keeps the lungs open with a constant positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) and vibrates the air at a very high rate. The vibration helps gases to quickly diffuse in and out of the baby’s airways without the need for the “bellows” action which may damage delicate lung structures.

We at Brave Beginnings were so pleased to be able to provide the NICU staff at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital with essential machinery that aids in saving the lives of so many neonates and preemies, helping them to survive and thrive! You can watch a quick clip of our visit to the hospital here:

To help us continue the kind of work we were able to do at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, support the work we do here: 

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