Special Care Nursery Offers Advanced Preterm Care

Each year, there are approximately 390,000 babies born in Canada. Of these births, nearly eight percent are born prematurely, at 37 weeks or earlier. Premature babies face serious complications and are at higher risk of developing chronic health conditions later in life. With the specialized care available at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital (STEGH), expectant mothers in St. Thomas and Elgin County can rest assured that they are in good hands.

STEGH delivers between 650-700 babies each year, and has been providing neonatal care since the sixties. Most of these babies reach the average 40 weeks of gestation normally required for full growth and development; however, for babies born prematurely, STEGH offers a Special Care Nursery equipped to provide intensive care support for babies 34 weeks and up.

STEGH supports tertiary care as a step down and overflow unit, and supports the entire South West region as needed. The four-bed nursery offers state-of-the-art equipment, including 24-hr respiratory therapy coverage, invasive and non-invasive ventilation, central and peripheral lines, lactation support, donor breastmilk, plus much more. Staff work with pediatricians and dietitians to optimize the growth and development of the baby, and nurses are cross trained to support the care needs of both, mom and baby. Kangaroo chairs are provided at the bedside allowing mom and baby skin-to-skin contact, which has shown to have dramatic effects of preemies and full-term babies. STEGH offers women from St. Thomas and Elgin County the option of delivering their babies close to home, in a familiar setting, with the support of family and friends close by.  

“We are extremely proud of the highly skilled services we offer in St. Thomas,” says Dr. Paul Kerr, Department Chief, Paediatrics. “The program we have developed in St. Thomas means expectant mothers can stay close to home and safely deliver premature babies at STEGH without having to travel to another centre for specialized care.”  

World Prematurity Day is observed on November 17 each year to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide.