Sunday, February 12, 2012

CLOSURE

We were surprised to read that the NICU where Micah began his first 33 days of life has now closed. The Correo del Sur (the daily newspaper of Sucre, Bolivia) reports that most of the other departments of the Hospital Santa Barbara will continue as normal, but all NICU patients will now receive treatment in a newly constructed hospital for children called Hospital del NiƱo "San Pedro Claver" which is located about 15 minutes away by car from downtown Sucre, and will be equipped with a Level 3 NICU.

One of the times that we came to Hospital Santa Barbara to see Micah during visiting hours, we walked up the crumbling cement stairs to the patio outside of the NICU to notice that all of the hallway windows were open and we could see the neonatal nurses inside scrubbing an empty incubator. We wondered if that meant that a baby had died. When we came to visit the night before, Micah was the only patient left in the room. Panic instantly settled in: Where was our baby?

We knocked on the door. No one heard us. Eventually a nurse looked up from the plastic incubator she working on, saw us huddled and scared in the patio from her vantage point next to the open window and she came outside to give us an update. She assured us that there was nothing to fear, Micah was stable and had been moved to another area, so they decided to empty and disinfect the incubator room. Whew! What a relief.

We peeked through the windows to see that the NICU room formerly dominated by wires, blinking medical devices, dripping medicine tubes, and beeping machines was now just an empty cold-looking room with ugly tile floors, old windows, a sink, and a lot of outlets for electricity and oxygen. It was eerie and lifeless, but somehow less intimidating.

It is very strange for us to think that the same UTIP (NICU) room where we visited our baby will no longer be available for Sucre's tiniest patients. We feel kind of sad and kind of relieved at the same time. We have so many vivid, emotional memories of the former location, but at the same time, the hospital was founded over 450 years ago. It was old and small for the number of patients in need of care.

We're optimistic that the new hospital will be able to provide well-trained neonatologists, nurses, and support staff, as well as specialized equipment for newborns within a building that is a healthier, more sanitary environment. Another advantage of this new location is that it is near a recently constructed hospital specializing in obstetrics. This could make it more possible for new mommies and daddies who gave birth and then experienced their child being transported to the NICU to be near enough to see their child during visiting hours while their newborn is in treatment. Both hospitals will be accessible by public bus routes, as well as taxis and privately owned cars, which is very important because the facilities are located on the outskirts of town near the airport.


This hospital provides a very meaningful contribution to the families of Sucre. The community's devotion of financial and other resources to the creation of this hospital is quite significant because it places value and importance on even the tiniest human life. We hope that this new children's hospital will be a blessing for other babies who are having a rough beginning like Micah and offer the best possible hope for medical recovery!  


May God bless the hands of those who work in the new hospital you see in the picture below!