Nghệ An doctors and nurses dedicated to medically challenged infants

October 25, 2023 - 08:56
Caring for and treating premature and extremely premature infants is always a significant challenge.


Doctors and nurses at the Nghệ An Paediatric Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit care for premature infants. VNA/VNS Photo Bích Huệ

NGHỆ AN – For female doctors and nurses in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Nghệ An Paediatric Hospital, the normal development of newborns brings joy and serves as their daily motivation.

Many of these newborns are premature or have health issues, but they gradually grow stronger and are discharged into the loving embrace of their parents, which is a priceless reward for these medical professionals.

Dr Trương Lệ Thi, a specialist in Neonatology and head of the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, says that seeing every baby discharged healthy after receiving care and treatment in the unit provides her with the extra motivation needed to overcome the challenges and pressures of her job.

With bright eyes and a constant smile, Thi makes a strong first impression on everyone she encounters. Her nimble hands flip through each patient's medical records, providing guidance to the nursing staff on the care of newly admitted infants.

Although Thi initially studied general medicine at Thái Bình Medical University, she eventually found herself drawn to the field of neonatology. She tirelessly pursued professional development, completing a residency programme and earning a specialisation in neonatology at Hà Nội Medical University. After finishing her training, she was entrusted by the leadership of the Nghệ An Paediatric Hospital to work in the neonatal unit.

Thi recalls that at that time, the unit was understaffed and only able to care for 50 per cent of the infants born in the hospital, specifically those with health issues. Due to the growing demand and the increasing number of newborns, the hospital established the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Over nearly a decade, this unit has provided care to all the babies born at the hospital and has extended its services to infants from central Hà Tĩnh and Quảng Bình provinces, many of whom face severe respiratory distress, neonatal infections, sepsis, jaundice, congenital heart defects and metabolic disorders.

The Neonatal Unit has successfully nurtured premature babies with weights as low as 600 grammes. It has also conducted screening to detect postnatal disorders in newborns, such as hearing loss, congenital heart defects using echocardiography, and metabolic screening through heel blood samples.

The field of medicine is demanding and requires sacrifice. Providing care and treatment to sick or premature newborns is a battle that demands dedication, patience and resilience from doctors and nurses. Simultaneously, they must monitor and care for the lives of hundreds of babies, including those born prematurely or with various severe medical conditions.

"We not only monitor every breath and heartbeat on the machines, but we also have to continuously observe the babies, sometimes even sitting next to their incubators, closely watching every expression, every movement or sign of distress to ensure timely adjustments. It's an around-the-clock commitment," she says.


Dr Trương Lệ Thi, head of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, tends to a paediatric patient. VNA/VNS Photo Bích Huệ

Thi recalls an incident two years ago when a child from central Quảng Bình Province, who had just been born a few hours earlier, showed signs of severe heart and respiratory failure. The child was in transfer to the National Children's Hospital in Vinh City for treatment, but on the way, the child's heart stopped beating, prompting the family to rush back to the Nghệ An Paediatric Hospital. Thanks to the immediate interventions in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the baby was successfully brought back to life.

A few hours later, the child experienced a second cardiac arrest. Thi and her colleagues held a consultation and sought the expertise of specialists from other hospitals to develop a timely and effective emergency care protocol.

Fortunately, with the correct resuscitation techniques and the combined efforts of the entire medical team, the child's health gradually improved, and the patient was eventually discharged from the hospital.

Thi also mentions the recent case of a premature baby girl. The baby was born at 24 weeks and 5 days and weighed only 700 grammes. After more than three months of intensive care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the baby was discharged with a weight of 2.4 kilogrammes, having the ability to breastfeed independently. This is the most premature baby to be successfully nurtured at the Nghệ An Paediatric Hospital.

Dedication and responsibility

With nearly 20 years of experience in the medical field, Thi cannot recall all the sleepless nights spent treating patients. Being both a doctor and a mother, she understands better than anyone that newborns need warm hands and the love of their loved ones to develop both physically and mentally.

With this simple thought in mind, she has strived to overcome the challenges, pouring her heart and responsibility into the care of paediatric patients.

Thi says caring for and treating premature and extremely premature infants is always a significant challenge. Due to the high rate of complications and mortality, these infants face various risks such as respiratory issues, infections and life-threatening conditions.


Doctors and nurses provide care for premature infants. VNA/VNS Photo Bích Huệ

It requires doctors and nurses at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to closely monitor the health and provide nurturing care to these babies. Moreover, strict control is maintained over factors like lighting, noise and infection, she says.

As a result, each developmental milestone of these infants will be a source of joy and happiness for the unit and their families, she adds.

Speaking of her colleagues, who have also been mentors in her work, Trần Thị Loan, head nurse of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, says that aside from being proficient in her field, Dr Thi is always dedicated and responsible in her work. Every morning, everyone is accustomed to seeing her check the health of each premature baby in their incubators.

Despite her busy schedule, Thi makes an effort to devote her limited spare time to passing on knowledge and providing hands-on guidance to the younger staff in the unit. This helps them not only develop professionally, but also cope with the pressures of their work.

"We often tell each other that the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a place where day and night blur together. There, the lights never go out, and neither do the doctors, nurses or staff find a moment of respite. Every day, as we see these fragile infants lying in their incubators, vulnerable, and with the worried eyes of their families, we all know that we carry the weight of our profession, and the trust and expectations of these families."

Dr Trần Văn Cương, Deputy Director of the Nghệ An Paediatric Hospital, says that the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit consistently provides comprehensive care for 50-60 infants, with the number rising to nearly 80 at peak times.

Taking care of and treating premature or sick infants is a battle, demanding the effort, patience and perseverance of doctors and nurses. Thanks to the dedication and sacrifices of these doctors and nurses, hundreds of premature and medically challenged infants have been saved and returned to their families in good health, he says. – VNS