Katie McElveen had a smooth experience with her first son and wanted to have another child soon after so the siblings would be close in age.
She and her husband, Donny, moved to Charleston during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Katie was supposed to deliver at East Cooper Medical Center in November of 2020. In October, she began leaking amniotic fluid and received shots to build up her son’s lungs in case she delivered early. She later found out the shots did not work, and her son was born Oct. 7 instead of his projected due date of Nov. 17.
They spent two weeks in East Cooper Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit trying to build up the child’s lungs and get him to eat on his own. This story had a happy ending.
“Our experience with the East Cooper NICU staff was amazing,” said Katie. “As a parent, you hope to never have to experience the NICU, but the staff went above and beyond to make sure that not only was our baby comfortable and happy, but we as parents were, too. It was terrifying leaving our newborn at the hospital when we were discharged, but knowing he was in the best hands possible gave us peace of mind. We are still in contact with some of the nurses at the East Cooper NICU, and I have a feeling we will be for the rest of our lives.”
In a nice aside, Donny, who played football for Clemson University, got Head Coach Dabo Swinney to sign a ball for the NICU.
Dr. Lori Huff, neonatologist at East Cooper Medical Center, explained that the Level 2 nursery, which is able to care for ill babies and premature babies born as early as 32 weeks gestational age, is important because it enables mothers and babies to stay together at the delivering hospital.
“Mothers are able to have continuity of care with their primary OB for delivery, and babies needing the Level 2 nursery’s specialized care can stay in the same hospital as birth and they can stay with their mother. It eliminates the burden of transferring an ill and/or premature baby to a different hospital from where their mother is receiving care.”
Dr. Huff said that while babies are in the Level 2 nursery, parents receive education from multiple specialists to enhance their infant’s progression toward the ultimate goal of being sent home healthy and thriving. These specialists include a feeding team – lactation and speech pathologists – physical therapists, case managers and infant nurses and medical providers.
East Cooper Hospital’s Level 2 nursery serves well over 200 infants annually.
Dr. Huff said, “Most of the time when parents have infants admitted to our unit, it is unexpected. We know this is a very difficult time for families, and we try and support not only the infant but the families as well. A common statement I hear at the time of discharge from families is that the silver lining was how much more confident they are and how much more well prepared they feel to take care of their infant at home now that they have received so much education and support while their infant was in our unit.”
For more information on the East Cooper Medical Center, visit www.eastcoopermedctr.com or call 843-881-0100.
By John Torsiello