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Locals receive gift of life right at home

— As Katelynn Turner lay in the Level II nursery attached to a ventilator at the Yampa Valley Medical Center nearly three weeks ago, her mother, Susan, prayed that her daughter’s lungs would develop properly.

“It was my fault,” Turner said. “I had three C-sections before and the doctor was afraid of damaging my uterus. I started having contractions, she (Katelynn ) wanted to come out.”

Katelynn was born three weeks prematurely.



Although it was no fault of Turner’s, hospital officials say a mother’s mind wanders with anxiety when her newborn baby is put in the Level II nursery for an undisclosed amount of time.

More than a week after her care in the nursery, Katelynn was returned home since her scary arrival into the world.



And as Katelynn slept in her baby carrier during the fourth annual Level II nursery reunion, Turner smiled, relieved that her baby was no longer on oxygen and has put on weight since her return home.

The reunion brought babies, infants, toddlers and families together for a look at the growth and condition of others who have graduated from Level II.

“It’s kind of for selfish reasons. I want to see them getting bigger,” Tracy Heaberlin, neonatal nurse practitioner, said. “There are a lot of other people that undergo the same circumstances.”

Heaberlin was instrumental in creating the rural Level II nursery at the hospital in 1997. Heaberlin now shares her duties with neonatal nurse practitioner Tracie Line. Neonatal refers to the first 28 days of life.

The Level II nursery, or intermediate care facility, provides health care to high-risk newborns. Before Steamboat’s Level II addition to the hospital, newborns were flown to Denver for immediate care.

Four years ago, Cheryl Wilson, with Ashley still contracting in her womb, was airlifted to Denver. She was then brought back to Steamboat for Level II care.

“It’s great to be in your own community where there’s no out-of-pocket expenses,” Wilson said.

Ashley was born eight weeks premature and has cystic fibrosis. Nurses kept busy keeping Ashley’s weight up and regulating her temperature for the first month of the newborn’s life.

“They totally step in and take charge, so we get a chance to regroup and be acquainted with being a mom,” Wilson said.

The theme for this year’s reunion, “Great Little People, Great Big Futures,” allowed the recently graduated babies to receive a puppet and diploma for their hard work.

Rainbow Sandwich provided the music at the gathering.

Dr. Ron Famiglietti, director of pediatrics, welcomed the children and families to the reunion and reminisced of the original

Level II nursery.

“I think it was about 4 feet wide and about 8 feet long,” Famiglietti said. “And there were about two kids in Level II. We’ve come a long way and started a fantastic program.”

Presenting a heartfelt and touching, personal story, Tracy Zuschlag informed the audience of a new Level II parent support group that started July 2000.

“Everyone here has their own story,” Zuschlag said, adding her fears and frustrations of being a Level II mom.

The support group is named P.O.P.S.I.C.L.E., Parents of Premies (premature infant) and Special Infant Care Linking Energy. It’s vision is providing families of newborns requiring special care a community comfort continuum structured around family-centered care, with dialogue for counseling and medical advice in a hospital-based environment.

“Finally, to complete this we need your help. Any involvement would be greatly accepted,” Zuschlag said.


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