There is no doubt, doctors and nurses go above and beyond every day at the University of Vermont Medical Center.
But in the Neonatal intensive care unit, something else is saving lives, and you may be surprised to learn, it’s a product you can find at the grocery store.
New mom Kathryn Fritts is still counting her blessings.
“If I had been at home in Plattsburgh, he probably wouldn’t be alive right now,” Fritts said.
Her little Noah Ethan was born January 22nd at the University of Vermont Medical Center. But he wasn’t supposed to arrive, until April 25th.
“I wasn’t expecting to have a baby this early, so I was still wrapping my mind around the fact, I did really just have a baby, this is mine,” Fritts said.
At just 2 pounds, 7 ounces, this preemie needed help.
“We know exactly what personnell we need, what equipment we need, who stands where, who does what,” Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Marilyn Benis said.
With 24 years NICU experience, Marilyn Benis describes one crucial item.
A gallon-size, plastic bag.
“When we first started it we actually, I went out and bought them at Price Chopper. You slip the baby into the bag, up to the shoulders, and then put a hat on their head,” Benis said.
With a slit down the middle, a team of doctors and nurses can then get to work because even a slight chill could put a tiny baby at risk for complications.
“The fluid helps, all that moisture is what helps to keep the heat in as well, and the bags just sort of stick to the babies and keeps them nice and warm,” Benis said.
Benis says the bag is usually removed within the first 10 minutes, to a half hour.
“We noticed that our, we had very few babies that were cold from Labor & Delivery, after we started using them,” Benis said.
“Just before taking him out of the room to take him over to the NICU, they wheeled him over next to me in the bed and I got to look at him and yeah, he was just wrapped up in a little bag, he was all tubed up and everything,” Kathryn Fritts said.
A food grade plastic bag, just one part of the process to help keep babies, like Noah, thriving.
“He’s gained weight, he just, he still has a breathing tube, but his lungs are so tiny, that’s to be expected,” Fritts said.
Kathryn hopes he’ll be home by early April.
“There are no words to explain how grateful I am that we were here, in the right place at the right time, and the staff here are just phenomenal,” she said.
They don’t get the bags from Price Chopper anymore, they’re order in bulk, by the hospital, and always stocked in the delivery rooms.
Marilyn Benis also said the bags cost pennies, she said this is a tool that could easily be used in developing countries to help save premature babies.