University City

Parents of newborns learn life-saving skills

No one knows better than Mariagrazia Santos that having an infant who needs special care can cause a parent to feel uneasy and overwhelmed.

Santos found herself more at ease facing that situation last week as she prepared to take home her son, Nathan, born prematurely June 4 at Carolinas Medical Center-University.

She left the hospital trained to perform CPR if her child suddenly stopped breathing.

The hospital provided the training and a CPR learning kit through its Special Care Neonatal Nursery Fund, one of its community investment programs.

The staff is recruiting teams and sponsors for its LiveWell for Life 8K race with a goal of raising at least $15,000 at the Sept. 24 event for the fund and other community programs.

Teams can register for the Sept. 24 race beginning July 31.

"With the training, I know what to look for and what to do," Santos said last week. "It's a good thing and a good program because ... you never know."

Until CMC-University began using the CPR kits earlier this year, the only training material for parents was on video.

The hospital's goal is to provide training and kits to families of each of the 200 or more critically ill and premature infants who visit the Special Care Neonatal Nursery this year.

The Levine Children's Hospital at CMC's main hospital also provides kits and training.

The kits include an instructional DVD, booklets and most importantly, an infant mannequin that they can use to practice CPR techniques at the hospital and at home.

"It has benefitted our parent population," said Kathryn Webner, director of nursing for the Maternity Services division, said of the CPR kits. "They learn better through the hands-on" approach.