Posts by Dean

A PAL for Preemies: Musical Pacifier Helps Babies Learn to Eat

Posted on Jul 24, 2019 in California Pacific Medical Center, NICU, Pediatric Care, Quality, Scroll Images

SAN FRANCISCO — Born a month and a half early at just 34 weeks, tiny baby Olive O’Neill was so premature that she was unable to feed orally. But by sucking on a pacifier that plays a lullaby sung by her parents, baby Olive quickly learned how to feed and has successfully gone home to her family.

Baby Olive using the PAL

The innovative device is called a PAL, short for Pacifier-Activated Lullaby. The PAL works by motivating babies to suck on a specially designed pacifier to help strengthen their sucking reflex.

At birth, premature infants often lack a developed sucking reflex. The inability to feed on their own is a common reason they remain hospitalized after birth. To help these newborns develop the sucking reflex more quickly so they can go home sooner, California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) Van Ness Campus hospital in San Francisco, part of Sutter Health’s integrated not-for-profit network of care, is now using the PAL in its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Research backs the PAL

According to music therapist Elisha Madsen, MME, MT-BC, who works with parents in CPMC’s NICU to train their infants with the special pacifier, studies show that premature infants who receive PAL therapy develop an increased ability to eat on their own more quickly, gain weight and have a reduced length of NICU hospitalization.

Studies have determined that average NICU hospital stays were 20 percent shorter (nine days on average) for babies who received PAL treatment versus babies who did not. Studies also have shown that babies increased their sucking rates up to 2.5 times more than infants who did not receive PAL. Increased sucking translates to improved oral feeding skills, which can directly affect a baby’s ability to go home from the NICU sooner.

How PAL works

The PAL is attached to a sensor that measures the strength of the baby’s sucking. When the PAL detects that the baby has sucked on the pacifier to a predetermined strength, the baby earns a reward – a lullaby recorded by the baby’s mom or dad. Music therapist Madsen explains that hearing their parent singing a lullaby motivates babies to continue sucking on the pacifier, which in turn improves the sucking reflex.

Charles and Alissa O’Neill, who recorded the traditional lullaby “London Bridge is Falling Down” for their daughter Olive, credit the PAL with helping her develop the ability to feed.

“Having the PAL is great because you could see instantly that she had a really good response to both her mom’s voice and my voice – which helped her develop her sucking,” says Olive’s dad, Charles.

“The last couple of weeks of our stay at CPMC were focused around feeding and helping Olive [learn to] feed on her own,” adds mom Alissa. “After we used the PAL, we also sang to Olive to help encourage her to feed.”

Madsen says that, within a couple of minutes, most babies learn they will have to suck on the pacifier to receive their music reward. “Parents light up when they see their baby is responding to their singing voices and is learning the skills needed to eat and go home,” Madsen says. “It is just precious to see this reaction.”

CPMC’s Level III NICU: Life-saving Technologies and Compassionate Support

CPMC’s Van Ness Campus hospital NICU is a designated level III NICU capable of caring for very small or very sick newborn babies that may need continuous life support and comprehensive care. Level III NICUs also offer a full range of pediatric medical subspecialists capable of providing critical medical and surgical care and to address problems that premature and critically ill newborns may have.

Studies have shown better outcomes for very low birth weight infants and premature infants who are born at level III centers, leading to recommendations that women at risk be transported to these centers to give birth. Through Sutter Health’s integrated network of care, women with high-risk pregnancies, and babies born prematurely or with complications, can be transported to a higher level of NICU with seamless coordination of medical care and support. This seamless care can reduce complication, reduce hospital readmissions and reduce the overall cost of care.

 

 

The Dog-tor Will See You Now

Posted on Jun 18, 2019 in California Pacific Medical Center, Carousel, Pediatric Care, Scroll Images

Therapy Dog Cares for Patients at CPMC Van Ness Campus

Posey with 16 year old pediatric patient Buddy Pendergast

SAN FRANCISCO–Anxiety and fear are common issues that pediatricians and staff address every day when caring for children inside Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center Emergency Department. They enlist child life specialists to assist, as well as a very special team member, Posey the Therapy Dog.

Posey partners with emergency department pediatrician, Vince Tamariz, M.D., to see young patients who come in for assistance with an illness or injury. While Dr. Tamariz addresses the health issue, Posey addresses the stress children face when coming into this unfamiliar environment. With a soft and unhurried approach, Posey can easily distract a child from the frightening medical activity that is underway and bring a sense of calm and curiosity to the child, reducing the fear and anxiety.

“When Posey walks into the room kids have something to focus on that is a distraction from what is happening with their care,” said Dr. Tamariz. “Even parents admit that Posey helps relieve the stress they feel resulting from the need to bring their child to the emergency department.”

When there is a break in the activity of the emergency department, Posey can be found on the pediatric floor of the hospital. Posey makes her rounds, checking in on young patients to see if anyone needs her loving assistance. When she walks into a room spirits lift and children have a break from the ailments that bring them to the hospital. While patients love to see Posey and pet her soft fur, she will also hop up on the bed—when invited—to lay beside a patient who may have difficulty reaching her or getting out of the bed.

Many studies show that petting a dog makes you feel good; it increases oxytocin in the body, which amplifies feelings of happiness and empathy. It also lowers the heart rate, decreases blood pressure and reduces cortisol (the stress hormone). These results can make a big difference for children in the hospital.

Specially-Designed Pacifier Uses Music to Teach Premature Infants How to Feed

Posted on Jun 14, 2019 in California Pacific Medical Center, Pediatric Care, Quality

Parents’ Voice Singing a Lullaby Rewards Baby for Sucking

Alissa and Charles O’Neill with baby Olive

SAN FRANCISCO—Premature babies often lack a developed sucking reflex, leaving them unable to feed orally. And the inability to feed is a common reason new born babies remain hospitalized after birth. To help develop the sucking reflex more quickly, California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), part of Sutter Health’s not-for-profit network of care, is using a new device called a Pacifier-Activated Lullaby (PAL) in its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

According to CPMC’s music therapist Elisha Madsen, MME, MT-BC, recent studies show that about 70 percent of the premature infants who receive PAL treatment respond positively to it. They increase their ability to eat on their own, gain weight, and go home from the NICU earlier.

Charles O’Neill and baby Olive at home

The PAL rewards and motivates babies to suck on a pacifier to help strengthen their sucking reflex. The special pacifier is attached to a sensor module that measures the strength of the baby’s sucking reflex. When the PAL detects that the baby has sucked on the pacifier to the predetermined strength, the baby earns a reward –a lullaby recorded by the baby’s own mom or dad.

Madsen explains that hearing their parent singing a lullaby motivates babies to continue sucking on the pacifier –which improves the sucking reflex. “Within two and a half minutes, she says, “most babies learn they will have to suck on the pacifier to receive their music reward.”

“It’s exciting for us at CPMC to be able to offer parents a direct role in their baby’s care where they are the reason the baby’s health is improving,” said Madsen. “Parents just light up when they see their baby responding to their singing voices and learn the skills they need to eat and go home. It is just precious to see this reaction.”

Dad’s Best Father’s Day Gift? Bonding with Baby!

Posted on Jun 14, 2019 in California Pacific Medical Center, Quality

SAN FRANCISCO –On this Father’s Day we celebrate the bonding between dads and their newborn babies. While the focus of childbirth and postnatal care typically revolves around mother and baby, and with good reason, research shows that dads can also have an incredible impact on their babies in the days after birth.

Fathers who engage in skin-to-skin contact, often called kangaroo care, with their newborns can positively impact their child’s physical and emotional health immediately. Skin-to-skin contact helps create a bond between dad and baby and helps elevate a father’s natural parenting instincts. Practicing kangaroo care also helps dads become more sensitive and aware of their baby’s needs, and more confident about their parenting skills.

For the baby the benefits are many, says Terri Slagle, M.D., director of the neonatal intensive care unit at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center’s Van Ness Campus hospital. “Frequent skin-to-skin contact increases brain development and decreases stress responses. By holding his baby to his chest, dad creates a sense of security which can lead to a reduction in irritability and improved sleep, and helps to foster a regular and stable heart rhythm and breathing pattern,” Dr. Slagle says.  “It can also lead to weight gain for the baby as he or she develops better absorption and digestion of nutrients following skin-to-skin contact.”

Simply put, skin-to-skin contact stimulates the baby’s immune system and promotes physical and emotional wellbeing for both dad and baby while developing a stronger bond for the long term.

Royal Baby Birth Celebrated at CPMC’s Van Ness Campus with Newborn Coronations

Posted on May 6, 2019 in California Pacific Medical Center, People, Scroll Images, Women's Services

Brittney and Trevor Moore with baby girl Harlow

San Francisco—Newborns at California Pacific Medical Center’ (CPMC) Van Ness Campus hospital celebrated the royal

Kunal Jain and Isha Bhatnayar with baby boy Kiaan Jain

baby’s arrival on May 6 with nine newborn births of their own, each presented with a gold crown. These eight girls and one boy will forever share a special day with the royal couple’s new arrival.

The crowns these babies are donning were hand-made by CPMC nurse, June Shiraki, who’s been crocheting beanies for newborns at CPMC for the past 7 years. Coronations took place throughout the day as the new babies eased into their first day. Nurse Shiraki was on hand to help assist with coronations as we celebrated this day with the Sussexes.