Renee Himes, a representative from the West Penn Division of the March of Dimes in Pittsburgh, recently presented the staff of Sharon Regional Health System’s Level II nursery with a special recognition plaque for their efforts in providing advanced care and service to area families of premature babies.
The presentation was part of a March of Dimes “Day of Gratitude” effort designed to express thanks to the doctors, nurses and other health care professionals for all that they do each day as they care for these tiny babies and their families. The March of Dimes recently observed Prematurity Awareness Month in order to focus the nation’s attention on the impact premature birth has on babies and families.
Each year, premature birth touches more than half a million babies and their families across the nation, with almost 17,000 born annually in Pennsylvania who suffer the consequences of being born too soon. Prematurity is the number one cause of death during the first month of life. Even babies born just a few weeks too soon can face serious health challenges and are at risk for lifelong disabilities, including cerebral palsy, mental retardation, chronic lung disease, blindness, and hearing loss.
Preterm delivery can happen to any pregnant woman, and according to March of Dimes data, occurs in about four out of every 10 deliveries. Sharon Regional has the only designated Level II nursery in Mercer County, which allows its specially trained nurses to provide care for babies born up to six weeks premature. As a result, Sharon Regional does receive transfers of premature infants from other hospitals in the area, including Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.
Michalene Gula, RN, Director of the Women’s Center at Sharon Regional Health System, stressed the importance of prenatal care at the earliest opportunity. “It is imperative that women who think they may be pregnant or who are pregnant begin receiving their prenatal care at the onset to assure a healthy outcome for their babies and themselves,” Gula stated.
“We appreciate the educational opportunities the March of Dimes provides our staff along with their ongoing public educational efforts."
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.
For the latest resources and information, visit www.marchofdimes.com.