One foot at a time – Newborn screening

Electine Orido RN and Baby Cash

A quick pin prick to the heel of the foot, a small cry, a few drops of blood on card and you and your baby have taken an important step in keeping your child healthy – newborn screening.

Here in Arizona the newborn screening looks for 31 core disorders. In addition, we conduct a screening for hearing loss , for critical congenital heart defects and for jaundice. The list continues to expand as medical understanding grows.

Find out more about the Arizona Newborn Screening Panel

In July 2017, the State of Arizona Health Department added severe combined immunodeficiency, or SCID, to the list of conditions screened. While you may never have heard of SCID, a rare disorder affecting about one in 50,000 to 100,000 babies in the United States, you may have heard of the “Boy in the Bubble.” A young boy, David Vetter, brought this disease to notice when he survived for 12 years living in a plastic enclosure that excluded the everyday germs that generally kill affected infants in the first year of life. Generally, infants appear healthy at birth, but the lack of a functioning immune system makes them vulnerable to even everyday germs. Today, survival rates for children affected by SCID are much higher due to improved screening and treatment. If an infant receives a bone or cord blood transplant in the first three and half months of life prior to active infections, the survival rate can be as high as 94 percent.

But my baby looks healthy … Why every newborn needs newborn screening

We screen all babies because ALL babies are at risk, even if they look healthy. Most babies who are identified through screening have no family history of a disorder. The sooner a disorder is identified the quicker treatment can begin, which can prevent disability and even death.

What is involved in newborn screening?

Kassandra and baby Cash

1. Blood Test

At about 24 hours after birth, we start newborn screening with what is often called the heel-stick test.

Your baby’s heel will be cleaned and warmed. A quick pin prick allows five drops, yes just five drops, from your baby’s heel to be dropped onto a card with special filter paper to absorb the blood.

Once your baby’s details and your contact information are collected on the card it is sent off to the Arizona State Laboratory for testing.

Your child’s healthcare provider will be informed of normal or abnormal results. Be sure to ask your child’s provider for the test results if they do not volunteer them.

2. Pulse Oximetry

By using a sensor to detect low oxygen levels in the blood, we can identify babies who may have severe heart defects known as critical congenital heart disease. The pulse oximetry test is quick, easy and painless. We usually perform this screening test about 24 hours after birth. If a newborn’s oxygen level is below normal, your baby may need to have an ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram). Unfortunately, the pulse oximetry screening is limited in that it won’t find all heart conditions.

3. Bilirubinometer

We assess all babies for jaundice using a special light meter, which calculates the level of bilirubin by analyzing how the light reflects off the skin. Because bilirubin levels, which cause the yellowing of the skin, peak between the second and fourth day after birth, your newborn’s health care provider should check for jaundice after release from the hospital. If jaundice is suspected, the level of bilirubin in the blood will be assessed too.

4. Newborn hearing screening

This is a simple, non-invasive hearing screening. If your baby appears to have a hearing issue during the initial screening the baby will be referred for auditory brainstem response and otoacoustic emissions testing. Your baby will be asleep during the ABR testing, and if the infant sleeps well, we usually give the results of the testing immediately following the test.

Whether you deliver with a midwife or obstetrician at TMC for Women we will take care of these critical newborn screenings. To find out more about our maternity services check out the free maternity services tour.

Find out more: FREE maternity services tour.

Cigna, March of Dimes and TMC share A Common Thread

008Summertime in not usually when Tucsonans think about needing a knit-cap…unless they are a preemie.

This summer, thousands of cute knit-caps are available for preemies thanks to Cigna volunteers, who donated the caps to TMC during national volunteer week.

In April, Cigna volunteers traveled from Phoenix to deliver nearly 3,000 knit caps for NICU babies at Tucson Medical Center.

The community service project is called A Common Thread, and was founded by Cigna employees as part of Cigna’s national sponsorship of the March of Dimes.

The caps provide warmth for babies, which is particularly important for infants facing serious health challenges. Crocheted in many sizes, the caps can accommodate both premature and full-term babies. In addition, families enjoy the different styles and colors that give the newborns individuality.

014“We are most proud of this project,” said Jessica Celentano, executive director of market development at the Southern Arizona March of Dimes. “Each hat takes about 20 minutes to knit – that’s more than 900 volunteer hours to provide a needed and heartfelt service for families in our region.”

Cigna has been a partner of the March of Dimes and a national sponsor of March for Babies for the past 23 years. Since A Common Thread was founded, more than 12,000 baby hats have been donated to NICUs throughout the country and more than 8,500 have been donated in Arizona.

“It is a priority for Cigna and our employees to meaningfully contribute to local communities,” said Dr. Isaac Martinez, medical director of Cigna HealthCare. He joined Cigna employees Pamela Martin and Theresa Richards to deliver the 2,700+ caps to TMC. “Thanks to the many Cigna volunteers, like Pamela and Theresa, we’re honored to make this contribution to TMC.”

002Celentano, Martin, Richards and Dr. Martinez carried countless blue satchels filled with the donated caps through TMC’s Joel M. Childers Women’s Center. Pat Brown, TMC director of women’s and children’s services, thanked them for the unique caps and their community service.

“We are so thankful for their time and effort,” Brown said. “These caps are wonderful gifts for the babies and their families – and there is enough to last us for years.”

The NICU at TMC treats about 500 infants in the NICU each year, and more than 5,000 babies are born annually at TMC’s labor and delivery department – one of the busiest in the state.  A perfect fit for the sizeable donation.

Learn more about Cigna’s community support efforts like A Common Thread, on their Facebook page or on Twitter @Cigna or #CignaAZ. The March of Dimes website can provide more information about their efforts to help infants and families.

 

 

Giving back: NICU unit associate making big impact on so many lives

Mary Tisdale TMC NICU Unit Clerk and volunteer

Mary Tisdale
TMC NICU Unit Associate and volunteer

Mary Tisdale never gets tired of seeing babies leave TMC’s newborn intensive care unit – bigger, stronger and healthier than when they came in. “It’s wonderful seeing a little person who came in so small and helpless get to go home because of everyone who worked together to make his or her life better. It’s without a doubt the best part of my job,” she said. As a unit associate in TMC’s NICU for the past 23 years, Tisdale provides valuable support to clinical staff. But on Saturday mornings, she provides support to those babies in a different way – and she doesn’t earn a dime for it.

A volunteer in the NICU encouraged Tisdale to think about giving back. “She told me that they were looking for someone to volunteer at The Teal Saguaro. I thought to myself, ‘I just might like that.’ I’ve always had an interest in retail, and I love shopping, so I gave it a shot,” said Tisdale.

The Teal Saguaro is the TMC Auxiliary’s resale boutique. It’s completely run by TMC volunteers, and all funds raised directly support TMC. “I’ve seen how the funds provide life-saving equipment to NICU babies, and what great comfort that gives their parents,” Tisdale said. “I see the how this money makes programs like the NICU After Care Program possible. Volunteering is just one little way I can give back and continue to help the babies who depend on TMC for care every day.”

In 2013, The Teal Saguaro raised more than $50,000 for the hospital.

The boutique, located at 5395 E. Erickson Drive, just inside the medical park south of TMC, also serves as an easy access resource center for families in need of booster seats and bike helmets for children. And when patients need clothing due to emergency circumstances, staff can offer vouchers good at The Teal Saguaro.

Tisdale says volunteering her time here is incredibly rewarding. She’s one of 500 active volunteers who graciously give their time to TMC on a regular basis, and were honored during National Volunteer Week. On any given day, an estimated 78 volunteers are working at TMC. Last year, they logged a whopping 79,000 hours. “The amount of work our volunteers do for this hospital is truly astounding,” said Hope Thomas, TMC director of Volunteer Services. “We feel so fortunate to have a force who is dedicated to giving not only their time, but also their talents. Mary is a perfect example of someone who wholeheartedly believes in TMC’s mission – a seasoned, dedicated employee who is motivated to help the community in which she serves even when she is off the clock.”

So what’s even better than seeing NICU graduates leave TMC? Tisdale said it’s when those babies come back years later – sometimes with their own kids in tow – to thank the nurses who cared for them. “That is just the best,” laughed Tisdale. “It sure makes us feel old, but there is nothing better than knowing you were a small piece of a big impact on so many lives.”


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461