Sat, Feb

New umbilical cord device keeps baby-snatchers away

Cottonwood News

Babies are the boss at Verde Valley Medical Center, where keeping the boss safe and secure is a top priority, according to Marianne Schaefer, nurse clinician at VVMC Women and Children’s Center.

The latest in a long line of VVMC baby security measures is a new computerized tracking system that relies on an electronic transponder attached to the newborn’s umbilical cord. The new security system went live Thursday, July 21, Vice President of Nursing Jennifer Brewer said.

Attaching the transponder to the umbilical cord makes it much more difficult for would-be baby snatchers to remove the device, Libbie Ketts, the center’s new director of perinatal services, said.

Marianne Schaefer, a nurse clinician at Verde Valley Medical Center’s Women and Children’s Center, explains July 20 some of the equipment, including baby warmers, used in the unit’s stabilization nursery. The unit has been open for two years and recently added three neonatal nurse practitioners and an upgraded infant security system.“They can’t just cut it off like they can with a plastic wrist band,” Ketts said.

Anytime a newborn nears an exit, alarms sound, doors lock down and a message is delivered to VVMC security, Brewer said.

“The system immediately shows us which exit, which door and which baby is involved,” Brewer said.

The new system will also prevent any potential mix-ups in identifying one baby versus another, she said.

Ketts suggested the new security system based on her experience as an employee of Banner Health System in Colorado, her employer before she moved to Cottonwood.

“Libbie [Ketts] brings a fresh set of eyes,” Brewer said. “If we’re going to continue to provide excellent care, we need to have a lot of eyes, ears and hands involved.”

The security upgrade is one of several upgrades for newborns and their mothers offered at the center, which opened two years ago. More than 5,500 babies have been born at the center since 2009, Brewer said.

Another new, value-added service: Three full-time neonatal nurse practitioners are now on staff to make certain highly-trained newborn specialists are on the hospital floor around the clock, Schaefer said.

Neonatal nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who have completed graduate-level education, either a master’s or doctoral program, and have special knowledge and training that allows them to do assessments and order treatments similar to an obstetrician, Schaefer said.

A neonatal nurse practitioner has clinical experience in neonatal nursing with supervised clinical experience in the management of sick newborns and their families, she said.

They are trained to evaluate patients, write orders and perform all nursery procedures. Because they are highly trained, neonatal nurse practitioners have shared medical responsibility for their patients under the guidance of a neonatologist, Brewer said.

The recent upgrade in the level of care for newborns brought on by new security measures and the employment of newborn specialists fits with the center’s purpose, something that hasn’t changed since it opened in 2009, Schaefer said.

Patients feel more secure and comfortable in a homelike setting and have a greater sense of physical and emotional well-being. Consistent with that goal, patient rooms where procedures take place are designed to encourage earlier bonding between the mother and baby, as well as greater involvement by the partner, Ketts said.

“We stress family-centered care. Babies stay with moms as much as possible,” Schaefer said. “We really focus on the process of becoming a family.”


Greg Ruland can be reached at 634-8551 or email gruland@larsonnewspapers.com