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  • Sarah Waara

Resources for our tiniest patients

With two tiny hands, two small feet and a precious beating heart, a baby is a beautiful sign of new life. Sometimes, that new life comes a little too early.

In 2021, 1 in 9 babies in Milwaukee County were born preterm. Those preterm babies stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) until they develop enough to survive without medical support. Some preterm babies even stay in the NICU for weeks or months on end.

Thanks to donor support, preterm babies in Milwaukee have a safe place to stay at Ascension SE Wisconsin Hospital - St. Joseph Campus.

This past fiscal year, donor support allowed Ascension Wisconsin Foundation to purchase 15 Stryker Bassinets and implement continuous video EEG monitoring. This support made it possible for families in the NICU to have additional levels of comfort and hope as their little one worked hard to grow big and strong.

Michele Stiemke, NICU Nurse Manager at Ascension St. Joseph, has been at the hospital since she graduated nursing school in 1995. During that time, she has been able to see healthcare rapidly advance. The new additions to the NICU, Michele said, are needed as care continues to grow.

“The bassinets benefit NICU staff in that they move up and down, but most importantly they advance the care that we provide to all babies that spend time in the NICU,” she said. “The bassinets are incredibly sanitary and are safer for babies, too. In the first week we already had six or seven babies in the bassinets and it was so incredible to see.”

When babies stay in the NICU, they often need constant monitoring to assess vital signs, brain waves, movement and more to watch for seizures. With the addition of continuous EEG video monitoring, babies in the NICU at both Ascension St. Joseph and Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital, Milwaukee Campus will have the ability to be monitored at all times for seizures.

The new technology will make it possible for neurologists at Ascension Texas Dell Children’s Pediatric Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, a highly-regarded level 4 center, to monitor babies in the NICU. Neurologists will receive constant, up-to-date information on babies in the NICU at Ascension St. Joseph and Columbia St. Mary’s. With the ability for 24/7 monitoring, it is unlikely that babies will need to be transferred to other locations outside of the health system.

“With how healthcare and technology continues to develop, continuous video EEG monitoring will be a useful tool,” Michele said. “With funding from the Foundation, we’re able to provide a full level of support to our patients and peace of mind for their families.”

Donor support made this possible. Thanks to generosity to Ascension Wisconsin Foundation, our tiniest patients will continue to receive exceptional care at all times. Thank you, donors, for making a difference.


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