Hospitals aim to help babies at birth

Immediate steps can help alleviate shoulder injuries

— To help newborns come into the world as painlessly as possible, Three Rivers Hospital staff has been practicing what to do when a baby’s shoulder is hurt during delivery.

An emergency response simulation was conducted Aug. 19, training for a rare condition known as shoulder dystocia.

“It occurs right as the baby is being born, when the head delivers but the shoulders and body are unable to fully pass through the birth canal,” said Dr. James Wallace, a family practice physician with obstetrics and cesarean delivery experience at Family Health Centers in Brewster.

“Without an immediate response from the delivery team, the baby may suffocate or experience permanent nerve, bone or other trauma,” he said, but “recent evidence suggests that a specific sequence of maneuvers combined with an effective system of teamwork in the hospital lessens the chance of severe and permanent disability and death from shoulder dystocia.”

Occurring in about three of every 100 deliveries, the condition more often affects larger babies.

Three were born with shoulder dystocia over the past year at Three Rivers Hospital, but no lasting damage was done.

Instructors from an outreach program through Swedish Hospital in Seattle, known as the Gossman Center for Advanced Healthcare Simulation, provided the training.

“Three Rivers Hospital is excited to bring this cutting-edge technology to North Central Washington residents,” Executive Director of Patient Care and Chief Nursing Officer Gretchen Aguilar said.

At Mid-Valley Hospital in Omak, seven physicians and 11 nurses took the same classes the next day, Aug. 20.

Using a mannequin, the physicians were taught maneuvers to help the babies, while the nurses learned how to assist the doctors, said Rebecca Christoph, director of obstetrics and nursing.

Although the hospital is already within the national average for babies born with the condition, the classes were “excellent,” she said.

“We got really great feedback from the doctors. The best part was working with the doctors who do it and the nurses who do it.

“It can save a life. It’s a great skill to learn.”

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