BAYADA Pediatrics Stories
“I know Kasey is safe and getting the care she needs.”
Born at less than two pounds, Kasey is now happy and thriving
Kasey D., 18 months, sits on the floor in the bright and airy family room of her parents’ home, banging happily on a multicolored drum. Every time the baby’s fist makes contact, she is rewarded with music and bright lights that flash yellow, red, and blue. A huge smile crosses her face.
Suddenly, Kasey’s father Jack crawls into the room on all fours and shouts,
In a perfect imitation of the football referees she has seen on TV while cuddling with her father, Kasey lifts her arms up over her head, as Jack and her mother, Mary, roar with laughter.
Kasey’s playful nature may seem like normal toddler activity, but for Jack and Mary, nothing is taken for granted. Married five years ago, the couple dreamed of starting a family, only to face a devastating loss of a child born prematurely, as well as a series of heartbreaking miscarriages. Jack and Mary were unsure if they would ever be blessed with a child.
That’s when Kasey came into their lives, a tiny miracle, born at 26 weeks gestation and weighing in at a mere 1 pound, 5 ounces.
“She spent four months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and then transferred to another hospital for six more months in the NICU and progressive care unit—a total of 299 days in the hospital,” says Mary. Kasey’s parents chose nurses from BAYADA Pediatrics to provide their daughter’s complex medical care when they finally received the green light to take their baby home.
When Kasey entered the world, her underdeveloped lungs left her unable to breathe on her own. For her first six months, Kasey had an endotracheal tube in her mouth, allowing a variety of ventilators to breathe for her. She began to have difficulty thriving even with this assistance. To help Kasey, physicians opened a direct airway through a small incision in the neck into the trachea. Then, a tube was inserted, allowing her to breathe without the use of her nose or mouth. Kasey also had a tube in her mouth for the first few months of her life, preventing her from learning how to suck or swallow, and delaying speech.
To help their newborn learn to communicate, Mary and Jack used sign language with Kasey during her long hospital stay, a practice that continues to this day. Andrea Grady, RN, one of Kasey’s nurses, has enthusiastically embraced this communications tool, learning sign language so that she, in turn, can continue to teach Kasey.
“I love coming to take care of Kasey. She does something new every day. It is so rewarding to see,” says Andrea, who has worked for BAYADA for over 15 years.
Crystal Lee, RN, a BAYADA clinical manager, oversees all aspects of Kasey’s care. “All of the nurses on Kasey’s team are specially trained to care for children with complex medical needs,” explains Crystal. “They are with Kasey 16 hours a day.”
Kasey’s nurses provide the specialized care needed to help this happy baby thrive. They monitor all of her respiratory needs, suction out secretions that block her airway due to the tracheostomy tube, give her formula feedings every three hours through a tube inserted in her stomach (called a g-tube), and ensure she receives all of her medications. And of course, they fill her days with endless hugs, laughter, and play.
Andrea, who can often be found sitting on the floor with her young charge, follows Kasey as she crawls from toy to toy, ensuring the baby does not pull out her tracheostomy tube, and stays out of harm’s way. The compassionate nurse who loves working with children picks up a stuffed purple bear and places it in her lap, encouraging Kasey to crawl over and investigate. “My favorite moments with Kasey are when I teach her something new, and she picks it up so quickly,” shares Andrea, as Kasey grabs for the purple bear. “She is such a happy baby, I just love her.”
In addition to nursing care, Kasey also receives physical therapy through the state’s early intervention program. With the anticipated goal of decreasing Kasey’s dependence upon her ventilator and tracheostomy, physicians, nurses, speech and physical therapists collaborate in her care.
“It is with the hope that one day Kasey will experience the successful removal of her tracheostomy tube,” says Crystal. “This is referred to as a permanent decannulation. Many families celebrate this event with a ‘decannulation party,’ which is much like a birthday party with cake and balloons!”
Mary and Jack look forward to the day when their daughter has progressed to the point where she can breathe on her own. For now, they are relieved that their beautiful bundle of joy is doing so well, and are eternally grateful to her wonderful nurses.
“With BAYADA,” explains Mary, “I know Kasey is safe and getting the care she needs.”